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September 30, 2010 - 12:42pm

Oakfield-Alabama inducting four grads into alumni hall of fame

posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, Oakfield-Alabama Central Schools.

Four outstanding grads of Oakfield-Alabama High School are being honored this week through induction into the Alumni Hall of Fame.

The honorees include a military hero, a wildlife biologist, a fingerprint expert and an infant cardiology specialist.

The Alumni Association will host a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Caryville Inn in Oakfield. The honorees will also be recognized Friday night during O-A's Homecoming football game against Pembroke.

More information about the honorees after the jump:

Oakfield-Alabama Alumni Hall of Fame 2010

Colonel Ernest B. Shepard, 1934
shepard 1934.jpgErnest B. Shepard was born in Presque Isle, Maine, but moved to the Town of Alabama at an early age. He graduated from Oakfield High School in 1934. After graduating from college and a short teaching career, Ernest decided to serve his country and enlisted in the Air Force where he served in active duty from Nov. 3, 1941 until his retirement on Aug. 1, 1968.

Shortly after his enlistment, the United States entered World War II where Ernest served with distinction as a fighter pilot with the 316th Fighter Squadron. As WWII progressed, Ernest was attached to the 384th Fighter Squadron. Here he served as a fighter pilot and fighter squadron leader on 35 combat missions. Because of his leadership skills, Captain Shepard was selected to serve as squadron operations officer and was promoted to the rank of Major by February 1945.

Col. Shepard went on to become a P-51 Mustang pilot and squadron operation officer, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross "for extraordinary achievement while on bomber escort missions over Germany and German-occupied countries from September 9, 1944 to January 3, 1945." He was recognized for demonstrating an unfailing initiative and exemplary devotion to duty. Ernest B. Shepard served with distinction as lead pilot of a fighter group and fighter squadron on 14 missions. His outstanding leadership and outstanding airmanship resulted in the successful completion of these operations without loss of personel.

During his career, Ernest also received the: Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters; Distinguished Unit Citation; European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with seven Bronze Stars: Air Force Longevity Service Award with one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster; National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star; Viet Nam Service Medal; and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.

David Odell, 1965
odell 1965.jpgDavid Odell is a retired NYS Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologist. Early in his life, David decided he would devote his career and energy to protecting our natural resources. His love of the outdoors began with his earliest childhood experiences exploring the fields and forests around the Town of Alabama, studying and collecting everything from fossils to live animals.

David received his B.A. in Zoology from Houghton College in 1969 and then went on to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, where his major was Zoology. He received his Master of Science, with an emphasis in Wildlife Management, in 1974.

After high school and college, some interesting employment opportunities came his way, but David was convinced that he could make the greatest difference in the field of natural resource conservation. When offered a job with the DEC, David gladly accepted and became a career employee.

As project coordinator of the Montezuma Wetlands, David played a significant role in the expansion of land protection, restoration, enhancement and management of the Montezuma Wetland Complex. In his role as program director of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, David has worked with a variety of partners, including Ducks Unlimited, DEC, The Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Friends of Montezuma, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others. His lifelong commitment to and passion for waterfowl conservation has made a difference for all New Yorkers who enjoy wildlife.

In addition to his work with the DEC, David has also served as an assistant professor (adjunct) with the Houghton College Department of Biology. In this role, he taught courses including Wildlife Biology, Field Ornithology, Ecology of Alaska (two trips) and Animal Ecology Lab. David has also authored numerous conservation-related materials. Outside the workplace, Dave is active in his church, and (together with his wife) has taken part in two short-term missions trips to Honduras. Dave is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, having served as local club president and literacy chairman.

Valerie Palone McDonald, 1974
Palone-McDonald 1974.jpgAfter graduating from OA with the Class of '74 Valerie Palone went to work for GTE Sylvania where she remained until August 1978. During that time, she attended night classes at Genesee Community College where she studied Business Administration and Accounting. A move to Washington, D.C., later that year would prove to be a major turning point in her life; she has several decades of experience with the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, and Federal Bureau of Prisons since that time.

Val began her career in Washington as a fingerprint examiner with the FBI. By February 1981, she was an FBI Space Management Specialist managing over 300 FBI offices located west of the Mississippi, including Hawaii and Alaska. In May 1986, she was assigned as a facilities planning specialist for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In 1987 Valerie was selected as the first female construction project administrator for the Department of Justice (DOJ), Justice Management Division, Facilities and Administrative Services Staff.

Beginning in July 1992, Val served as a facilities management officer at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. One of her responsibilities in that capacity was to direct the development and implementation of a nationwide Long Range Master Plan to address federal prison facilities' physical plants and infrastructure of older institutions.

In 1999, Val was promoted to the chief of Facilities Programs, becoming the first female ever to hold this high position. One national program that she managed was the energy and water conservation program. In May 2006, Val was selected as the chief of Facilities Management for the Drug Enforcement Administration. In this position she was responsible for acquisition, design, construction and operation of 379 DEA domestic offices nationwide. On Dec. 6, 2009, Val was again promoted and selected as the first female ever to serve in her current capacity as DEA Chief Facilities Operations Section, for DEA Real Property worldwide, including DEA presence in 86 countries. Over the course of her federal career, Valerie has written many policies, manuals, reports, budgets and project papers. From February 2005 to October 2005, Val authored the FBOP Real Property Assessment Plan to comply with a Presidential Executive order. This Asset Management Plan became the model for the Department of Justice and was ultimately submitted to and approved by the Office of Management and Budget, Congress and the President.

Dr. Gul Dadlani, 1990
dadlani1990.jpgAfter graduating from OACS, Gul went on to the State University of New York at Buffalo where he earned his bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1994. Four years later, Dr. Dadlani received his medical degree from the University of Buffalo. From 1998 to 2001, he completed a residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital, Buffalo, where he received the Resident Teaching Award for three consecutive years as well as the University of Buffalo Medical School Siegal Teaching Award in Pediatrics.

Between 2001 and 2004, Dr. Dadlani completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and twice received a Fellow Teaching Award from Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong.

Dr. Dadlani is board certified in pediatric cardiology. His special interests include heart failure, cardiomyopathies, pulmonary hypertension, fetal echocardiography and Kawasaki disease.

Dr. Dadlani is the medical director of Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Cardiology Echocardiography laboratory director at All Children's Hospital located in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Safebeat Initiative, a current research project directed by Dr. Dadlani, involves All Children's Hospital community outreach program partnering with the Cardiac Arrhythmias Syndromes Foundation. The initiative provides cardiovascular education and free screening EKG's to high school students along the west coast of Florida with the goal of preventing sudden cardiac death.

Since February 2005, Dr. Dadlani has been the clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of South Florida. He has also presented numerous lectures relating to infant cardiology, authored a chapter in a medical textbook, and is credited as author of several medical publications.

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