Left to right: Officer Gary Allen, Mrs. Eric Joering, and Ron Smith.
Westerville South High School inducted three alumni into its Hall of Fame at a luncheon and ceremony held April 27 – Gary Allen, Eric Joering and Ronald W. Smith II. The school’s Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee selected those honored from a pool of applicants who graduated at least 10 years ago, have demonstrated success in their career, and have made significant contributions to their community.
Superintendent John Kellogg meets with the Student Advisory throughout the school year. He praised the pupils for their honesty and respectful perspectives that help identify and find solutions to district-wide concerns. He also thanked this year’s group of Hall of Fame inductees for the example they have set.
Gary Allen is a 1980 graduate of Westerville South. During high school, he participated in marching band and audio and visual broadcasting. He received an Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement from the Columbus Technical Institute. Allen has served with the Westerville Division of Police for more than 30 years, 10 of those as a K-9 officer. He has been involved in numerous community outreach programs such as Cops and Kids Day. He frequently takes time to visit with students, teaching and talking about his job and making kids comfortable with police officers. Allen has received personal recognition from private citizens 22 times. He also earned several Commendation awards; the Life Saving Medal for assisting in the resuscitation of a man who had stopped breathing and had no pulse; and the Exceptional Duty Award, when he observed a vehicle described by a witness as having been involved in a vehicular homicide. In 2016, he was named the Westerville Division Police Officer of the Year. Allen and his family reside in Westerville. His wife, Kris, is also a graduate of Westerville South, and they have three grown sons. Gary Allen has committed his life to serving the Westerville community and is a shining example of a Westerville South graduate.
Eric Joering graduated from Westerville South High School in 1997. He also graduated from the Police Academy at Columbus State College. Joering became a reserve police officer with the City of Gahanna until the Westerville Division of Police hired him. He served in Westerville as a patrol officer, in the Detective Bureau, and as a K-9 officer. He received commendations for assisting in the apprehension of four suspects involved in nine armed robberies in and around the City of Westerville; for assisting in the recovery of a runaway juvenile and the return of nearly $65,000 the juvenile had stolen; for his assistance in a large, multi-jurisdictional investigation concerning the compromising of credit cards throughout Central Ohio; and for assisting in the apprehension of a serial robber who was stealing drugs and money from Kroger pharmacies. Joering received the Exceptional Duty Award for his involvement in a large-scale surveillance operation that resulted in multiple arrests and the confiscation of a significant amount of heroin, more than $97,000 in cash, and two vehicles. He also received personal recognition from the Columbus Police Department for his assistance in locating, chasing and capturing a wanted person with a felony warrant. As important as being a police officer was to Joering, his most meaningful job was being a husband and father. He was a model family man. Joering became the first Westerville police officer killed in the line of duty while responding to a call for help. His spirit lives on through the lives of the countless citizens he served; through the officers of the Westerville Police Department; and, most importantly, through the lives of his family.
Ron Smith is a 1984 graduate of Westerville South High School, where he was active in theatre, orchestra, Key Club and Student Council. He received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and Business Communication from Otterbein College. Smith owns SOH Productions, a local video production company, and is a partner with civic and service organizations in Gahanna. He has been instrumental in the Gahanna Lincoln High School TV Program, helping to prepare students for possible careers in the broadcast field; gain experience and confidence in themselves through reporting assignments and meeting deadlines; and creating internship opportunities. He sits on the Board of the local Chamber of Commerce, Gahanna Residents in Need and is very active with local churches. He also serves as the local Executive Director of the newly formed Gahanna Neighborhood Bridges advocacy program that matches families or persons in need with community sponsors. Smith was chosen for induction because he is a great family man, accomplished businessperson and outstanding community leader.