The 30th annual Aquinas Emeritus Award went to a husband and wife who in their individual ways have demonstrated the highest standard of honoring family, community, and always, always young people. The 2013 winners Dave and Linda Mehney exemplify the Emeritus values of “ leadership, generosity, and spirit of service.”
Dave Mehney has taken entrepreneurship to a whole new level. Long known as a risk-taker, Dave made his first leap of faith in 1966 when he started selling Kawaski motorcycles. That went pretty well – including his own airplane – so he decided to try selling Skytron lights for hospital operating rooms. Financially a good move, for sure. But Skytron was also a show of respect for Dave’s father Dr. Gayle Mehney, a renowned Grand Rapids ophthalmologist.
The fearless skier on snow and water next took on Great Lakes Marine keeping West Michigan equipped with jet skis. But one more venue intrigued him: how about developing Thousand Oaks and building homes all around it? From selling motorcycles to running a golf course is almost a natural progression for Dave Mehney!
Meanwhile Linda, busy raising their five boys, found out their Florida babysitter’s living conditions were unacceptable. So Linda did what Linda does. She adopted Susan Mehney who became Dave’s and Linda’s beloved only daughter until Susan’s tragic death in a car accident.
Family is always first for Linda, now including 20 adored grandchildren. But she also did her own entrepreneuring when she started Grand Arabian Horse Farms. It didn’t take long for Linda’s magnificent Arabians to start taking national titles putting her stable on the gold list for sales and stud fees.
Dave and Linda Mehney have never met a young person they didn’t like – or one they wouldn’t help. As the volunteer assistant varsity football coach for East Grand Rapids since 1989, Dave has his finger on the community’s pulse. Kids, families, teachers – everyone knows who the go-to couple is when some student needs help.
Tough as both Dave and Linda are in their separate businesses, this year’s Emeritus winners are pushovers for children.
(**Above photo – Dave Mehney thanks the East Grand High School Madrigals who entertained a full-house audience at Thousand Oaks for the Emeritus banquet.)