Service to Mankind
Bob Ulm Class of 1974
Someone meeting Robert J. “Bob” Ulm for the first time may wonder how much a man, blind since he was nine months old, is able to do. After talking with the 1974 St. John’s graduate for about five minutes that same person may wonder, “what can’t Bob do?” The answer to the latter question is “almost nothing,” and the 2009 recipient of the Service to Mankind has an extended list of accomplishments to prove it.
Delphos St. John’s offered Bob a place to learn at a time when most blind children were educated in a residential school in Columbus.
“The teachers and administrators at St. John’s gave me many opportunities to develop as a person and didn’t cut me any slack or give me any special treatment,” Bob said. “They forced me to do my best and challenged me to exceed what was expected.”
Bob went to work for WDOH radio in Delphos before he graduated and remains with the station today as news director and sales representative for WDOH and four other Maverick Media radio stations. He has utilized his career as a way to learn about the community and discover ways to make a difference.
“The legacy of service to others was a very important part of my years at St. John’s and those were lessons I have tried not to forget,” he said.
His drive to help others is tenacious. He’s been vital in the success of the American Cancer Society’s local Relay for Life, has led the campaign to purchase city lots for Habitat for Humanity homes, and helped with the relocation of the Delphos Postal Museum.
He has spoken to thousands of Delphos students through DARE presentations, commencement speeches, service dog demonstrations and cancer survivor testimonials. He’s helped clean the Miami Erie Canal and emceed about every event in Delphos at least once. In his spare time he plays piano at the nursing homes and helps cub scouts learn the art of being a ham radio operator. He’s been roasted for charity, drenched with a fire hose solely for entertainment of others, and shaved bald on stage for a good cause. Few people in this city have been untouched by Bob’s service.
His vision of what Delphos can be led him to public office, and he has served as city council president for eight years. He believes in the goodness of his hometown and the people in it, and works diligently to do what’s best for its citizens.
He’s been named Man of the Year by the Delphos Herald and is a Jefferson Award winner.
Bob rarely forgets a name or a voice and has many memories of St. John’s.
“I fondly remember the sounds of voices of the numerous nuns and lay teachers who helped to shape me; Charles Geddert, my Braille teacher in first grade; the encouragement of my wrestling coach, Bob Marvin; the trips to away basketball games; helping with our senior class play with Kathy Hoffman (now Kathy Ulm); waiting word from some other announcer of a fog delay or snow cancellation; winning my first election as senior class president; pushing the limit as far as John Gunder would allow in TV programming class; hoping someone in algebra class would talk to themselves with the right answer to a problem; the smell of Spanish rice in the cafeteria and running into the girls in the hallway (literally).
Michael Bendele Class of 1974
Vision becomes reality at the hands of Michael Bendele. The 2009 recipient of the St. John’s Hall of Fame award for accomplishment in the Arts is a nationally-known artist blacksmith with works in 49 states and 17 countries. He teaches metalsmithing techniques throughout the United States and has been published in numerous books and magazines.
Michael graduated from St. John’s in 1971 and Bowling Green State University in 1976. Within two years he was dedicated to the exploration of forged metal. He now works primarily with steel, copper and bronze, and is recognized for the organic forms he uses in lighting, sculpture and architectural metal work.
He was an independent artist located at Sauder Village, in Archbold, Ohio, from 1979 until 1997, remaining on in an advisory capacity until 2000. While there, among many things, he designed and built a 2,300-pound chandelier for Founders Hall.
Michael is a longtime board member of Ohio Designer Craftsman, most recently serving as president. He is also a member of Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil and the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA). In 2003, he was invited to participate in a focus group that studied a proposed Ohio Center for the Arts, and in 2006, he was asked to lead a team of blacksmiths to design and assemble the ABANA Conference Ring Project in Seattle, Washington.
Some of Michael’s commissions include: Stations of the Cross for the Mary Crest Chapel at the University of Dayton; Stations and other appointments for the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus; a garden bench for the Ohio Governor’s Residence; the Great Doors, baptismal font, dedication crosses, and candle holders for Delphos St. John’s; sculptures for former Cleveland Indians pitcher Dave Burba and Javier Lopez of the Atlanta Braves; and railings, arbor, and chandeliers for Robert Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors.
Many of Michael’s works are on display far from Delphos, but he still lives and creates his work in his hometown and maintains that Blue Jay spirit.
“St. John’s simply became a part of who I am,” he said. “I believe beyond the content of the curriculum, St. John’s does in fact attempt to provide its students a foundation for what it means to be fair minded and decent people.”