|Richard Barta, right, with Leslie McDaniel, executive officer of the EIU Foundation|
Richard Barta of Charleston has been recognized as the Eastern Illinois University Foundation’s 2012 Annuitant Ambassador of the Year.
Many EIU annuitants (retirees) serve as volunteer ambassadors at the Neal Welcome Center, assisting visitors, guests and students who come in to complete scholarship paperwork. In recognition and appreciation of those who show exemplary service and dedication to the effort, the EIU Foundation Board recognizes one annuitant ambassador annually.
Staff members who work with the Annuitant Ambassadors on a daily basis overwhelmingly recommended Barta as this year’s recipient.
“Dick is warm and helpful to those who come in, volunteers extra time when needed and has a great sense of humor,” said Foundation staff members. “He is very respectful and gracious to the students and the staff, and is a joy to be around.”
A native North Dakotan, Barta began his training in music at the age of six -- piano, vocal/choral, instrumental band and more. His father had a small dance band and it was his wish that Barta play the clarinet and saxophone since his two older brothers played the trumpet and trombone.
Barta graduated from Mayville State College (N.D.), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music. He taught for one year before being drafted.
“Other than eight weeks of basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the remainder of my military service took me to the Navy School of Music in Virginia Beach (Va.)., the Fifth Army Band at Fort Sheridan (Ill.), and the Eighth Army Band in Seoul, Korea,” he said.
After being discharged from the Army in May 1968, Barta taught and pursued additional education. After receiving graduate degrees in music education (performance emphasis) and educational administration from Kansas University (Lawrence, Kan.), he and his family moved to Charleston where he began his 28-year career with EIU’s Department of Music.
“Retirement is an especially unique experience,” Barta said. “Having thoroughly enjoyed the teaching profession, it was not an easy decision to make. I am, however, keeping my ‘head in the game’ as the Westminster Choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Mattoon. (And) we look forward to some significant travel in the years to come.”
Past recipients of the Annuitant Ambassador of the Year award are Barbara Funk, Dave Maurer, Eulalee Anderson, Shirley Moore, Carol Helwig, Mary Coutant and Dale Wolf.