Alumnus of the Year: This award recognizes an alumnus who advances the Kingdom of God through noteworthy, long-term accomplishments in professional endeavors, significant service to the church, and a positive impact on the lives of others.
Young Alumnus Award: This award is given to an individual under 40 who displays distinguished leadership in his or her field and shows promise of future growth professionally and personally.
Hall of Faith Award: This honor is awarded to an alumnus who is currently or has been in full-time, long-term Christian ministry and has demonstrated faithful, consistent service throughout that time.
One Another Award: This honor recognizes an alumnus who has actively served others in some capacity for at least five years, advancing Christ’s Kingdom through compassion and exemplary commitment of time, talent, and treasure.
2023 Outstanding Alumni Honored
In recognition for their courage, achievement, and commitment to OKWU’s vision and mission, we proudly present this year’s Alumni Awards.
Alumnus of the Year
Max Colaw’s first pastoral appointment came when he was 19 and a student at Central Pilgrim College. He had been asked by the district superintendent, his father C.B. Colaw, to pastor a church in Newkirk, Oklahoma, that had been closed. On his first Sunday in 1964, only one family attended.
Colaw was obedient to the ministry, and eventually, the average attendance at that church reached the 30s every Sunday. Later, while he was finishing his degree in Oklahoma City, Colaw was appointed to another church that was without a pastor in Enid. For two and a half years, he made the 180-mile round trip each week to pastor that church.
In 1970, Colaw accepted the full-time pastor position at the Wesleyan Church in Enid. He and his wife, Ruth Ann, moved to Enid, where they lived for the next 21 years. During that time, Colaw and his family dug deep roots in the community and witnessed the growth of the church.
Then, in 1990, Colaw was nominated for the position of district superintendent that was opening up. Over the course of a few days, Colaw felt the Lord speaking to him through his devotional time. He accepted the nomination, which sent him and his family to Bartlesville. He would serve as the superintendent of the Tri-State District for the next 29 years before his retirement in 2019.
Colaw’s ties to OKWU have remained strong over the years. He is a former alumni president and has served on the Board of Trustees since 1988. He met his wife at the college, and their four children and their spouses all graduated from OKWU. Ruth Ann completed her degree at OKWU after they moved back to Bartlesville. “We have a great respect for the university,” he said. “I believe that not only do you get a good education here, but the relationships you build with other students that become lifelong relationships are very valuable.”
Being named the Alumnus of the Year was a surprise to Colaw, who has never sought recognition throughout his career.
“It’s interesting that, as the doors opened along the way, I never pursued any of them. I never put out a resume.” Still, the opportunities kept coming.
“I wanted to be obedient to the Lord.”
Young Alumnus Award
Joshua Klumb (’07) has learned how to stay busy. He serves his South Dakota community in many ways, working as a farmer, a church staff member, and as a state senator. His passion for local politics, which was rooted in his high school experiences, was nurtured during his time at OKWU.
Klumb arrived to campus in the fall of 2003 to pursue a business administration degree. He helped to found a chapter of the College Republicans and served in multiple positions of the student government. He was class president during his freshman and sophomore years, and served as the student body president as a junior and senior.
After graduating in 2007, Klumb was a summer intern for Senator John Thune in Washington, D.C. He made connections in the South Dakota State Legislature and worked there after his internship ended. Eventually, he was invited to serve as a Legislative committee secretary, a part-time job where he ran the committee, called the votes, and kept minutes.
By 2014, Klumb had 6 years of experience in the Legislature. When a position in the State House of Representatives became available, Klumb decided to run. He won the seat. In 2016, he ran and won a seat in the State Senate. He has served in that position ever since, though he is nearing his term limit.
Joshua Klumb was elected to the South Dakota State Legislature in 2014 and has served ever since.
In addition to his political work, Klumb and his father and brother work the farm that Klumb grew up on. Klumb is also the Director of Technology for RiverTree Church in Mitchell. He was hired in 2022 after volunteering in the sound booth for years. Klumb and his wife are expecting their first child, and he is not entirely sure what he will do after his term expires.
“I don’t know what my future plans are,” he said. “My time in the legislature is definitely coming to its sunset years. For right now, I feel like God is calling me to focus on preparing for fatherhood.”
Despite a lengthy resume, Klumb maintains humility when discussing being named OKWU’s Young Alumnus of the Year.
“I am not a special person. It doesn’t take anyone with great, deep pockets or special talents to do what I’ve done.”
Ken & Marilyn Blake
Hall of Faith
Ken and Marilyn Blake have more than 50 years in ministry, including over 30 years serving as missionaries overseas.
Ken came to Central Pilgrim College from Fresno, California. At 14 years old, while attending a Billy Graham Crusade, he felt the call of God on his life. A Wesleyan evangelist would later speak at Ken’s home church and recommended to him that he attend a denominational school. He chose Central Pilgrim College (later renamed Bartlesville Wesleyan), where he studied religion.
Marilyn grew up on a farm in Kansas, knowing since she was young that she wanted to be a missionary. She came to CPC to study nursing, believing that would be valuable for the mission field. She attended her final year of high school at Central Pilgrim and then took her pre-nursing courses before finishing the degree in Texas.
In June of 1969, Ken and Marilyn were married while Ken still had one final year of school. During that time, Marilyn served as the school nurse. The next year, they moved to Oregon, where they lived for the next 16 years. Ken earned his seminary degrees and pastored several churches, and all three of their children were born there.
The couple answered the call to the mission field in 1988. They moved to Munich, Germany, and became the first Wesleyan missionaries in continental Europe. During those early years, they planted a church. In 1993, they moved to Russia to help missionary teams that were training schoolteachers. They founded a Bible school and planted multiple churches. After 12 years, they left Russia and returned briefly to the States before returning to Germany. They still live there today.
They retired from Global Partners in 2014, but a small international church called Munich Christian Fellowship asked them to consider staying on as pastors. The couple had been involved with the church previously, and they accepted the position, where they continue to serve today.
“We joke that when we were young, God called us to take the Gospel to the nations. Now that we’re old, God brings the nations to us,” they say with a smile.
Their faithfulness has taken them all over the globe – from Bartlesville to Oregon to Germany and Russia, and the impact of their faithfulness will echo on.
One Another Award
“At BWC, the spiritual message is a foundation, and it certainly has been the foundation of my whole life.”
Kristin Heck’s distinguished life of service has included stints in two branches of the military and a successful civilian law career.
Heck grew up in Salina, Kansas, raised by her parents to give back to the community. She knew from a young age that she wanted to attend Bartlesville Wesleyan College. Three of her siblings had attended Miltonvale, and after its merger with BWC, Heck never considered another school.
Heck had dreams of attending law school after college, and at the suggestion of a professor, she studied business administration. She graduated in 1981.
However, Heck put off law school after she and her sister, Judi, decided to join the Air Force. Judi, a Miltonvale grad, had met her husband, Brad Scott, at college. Scott was an Air Force pilot, and the couple was living in Spain in 1981 when Scott was killed in a mid-air collision. Judi moved back to Salina, near her family, and she and Kristin started talking. Eventually, they decided to pursue commissions in the Air Force.
The sisters attended officer training school and graduated three weeks apart. Judi would go on to a decorated Air Force career, retiring in 2006 as a full Colonel. Kristin spent 9 years in the Air Force before leaving in 1991 to enroll in law school. She earned her JD in 1994.
Kristin Heck completed two tours in the Middle East as a member of the US Army, one in Iraq and one in Kuwait.
Heck once again answered the call to service, joining the Army Reserve in 1997. In 2002, she joined the Army full-time as a judge-advocate.
Heck served two tours, one in Iraq in 2006 and another in Kuwait in 2010, before retiring from the Army in 2012. In Iraq, the base she was stationed at was mortared daily. She remained active in military law as a civilian attorney until she retired completely from practicing law in 2018.
Heck went back to school after retirement, and received a degree in history from Kansas Wesleyan in 2020. She works at KWU as a researcher for the marketing and advancement offices at the university. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished individual than LTC Kristin Heck. However, her four degrees and two military branches served in are just bullet points to the larger theme of her life – service. But Heck is not someone who is out to broadcast herself or her accomplishments.