A man who served as a nuclear plant operator on a submarine and a woman who was an administrator at Franklin College for nearly two decades are being honored by the high school they attended.
Barry Whetstine, a 1963 graduate of Franklin Community High School, and Diane Black, a 1967 graduate, were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in a Aug. 17 ceremony.
The high school welcomed its first hall of fame class in 2015, with inductees ranging from a former Indiana governor to a teacher who worked at the district for nearly five decades. The goal of the new hall of fame was to provide a way to honor alumni for their academic success to go along its hall of fame for student-athletes.
With the addition of Whetstine and Black, the hall of fame now has 12 members.
Whetstine said he joined the Navy for a shot at adventure and a chance to get a college education. He ended up finding plenty of both. Whetstide was selected to attend the Navy’s nuclear power training program, which was two years of classes that prepared him to become a nuclear power plant operator on a submarine.
He served during the peak of cold war tensions with the Soviet Union.
“It was mostly boring actually, with nothing going on for long periods of time, and then we’d be interrupted by sheer terror for a few moments. You were always on your guard.”
After serving in the Navy, Whetstine worked at nuclear plants for General Electric and then formed his own consulting company that provided technical support to nuclear plants across the U.S.
Whetstine said he was honored to be selected for the school’s hall of fame and wanted to thank his classmates who nominated him. Several months ago, he moved back to Franklin from Trafalgar.
After high school, Black had a wide-ranging career in education. She taught physical education and health, as well as coached sports at South Wayne Middle School, and later worked as secretary and then administrator at Franklin College.
Bettering her community has always been her passion, Black said, drawing on her time spent growing up on her father’s farm.
“You have to take care of where you are planted,” she said. “You have to be involved in it and take care of it. You have to invest your time and your resources.”
Some of the ways Black has given back to her community have been serving as the program coordinator for Leadership Johnson County, being a member of the Franklin school board and through work with Girls Inc. and United Way.
Both Whetstine and Black said their advice to high school students is to work hard and think carefully about their plans for college or another career.
The Franklin Community High School Alumni Hall of Fame now has 10 members. Here’s a look at the past inductees.