Each year during Homecoming Bereans are recognized for their professional accomplishments, contributions to the community and commitments to the mission of Berea College. This year, Larry Allen ’78 and Jack Roush ’64 will receive Distinguished Alumnus awards. Silas House, published author and member of the College teaching faculty, will be presented an Honorary Alumnus Award. Recipients will be honored at the Alumni Awards Presentation and Reception at 6 p.m., Nov. 16 in the Boone Tavern Events Center.
Distinguished Alumnus Award – Larry Allen ’78
Larry Allen is an accomplished pottery artist whose works are increasingly sought after by collectors in the Southeast, and throughout the country. His stoneware-clay vessels are inspired largely by Native American and African art, and are authentic, beautiful and functional. Allen was introduced to the world of pottery as a student at Berea College, where he served as an apprentice potter for three years and earned a bachelor’s degree in art. Allen taught pottery classes at Jefferson State Community College for four years before opening his own studio, LA Pottery, in 2006.
After the events of September 11, 2001, Allen was stirred by the country’s collective unification. Seeing blue-collar and white-collar men and women, and even Congress on the front steps of the Capitol, standing for a common cause, Allen remembers thinking, “Now they get it—there is strength in unity.” He decided to capture that spirit in a unity motif of linked hands raised in the air, which he has worked into many of his art pieces to date.
Throughout his 35-year career, Allen’s work has received many accolades, including being showcased on the nationally televised HGTV show “That’s Clever” in 2008. He is a Guild member of the Southern Highlands in Asheville, N.C., and an Alabama Designer Craftsman. He has won numerous awards including Best In Show at many art shows, and his work is represented in several art galleries across the U.S. Allen’s work also has been given as gifts to Pulitzer Prize winner and author Harper Lee and Liberia’s first woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Allen and his wife, Linda Gassett Allen ’76, reside in Leeds, Ala., and have one daughter, Mahisha.
Distinguished Alumnus Award – Jack Roush ’64
One of Berea College’s most famous alumni, Jack Roush graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1964 before moving to Detroit to join the assembly and tooling operations of Ford Motor Company. While working at Ford, he joined a group of drag racing enthusiasts called “The Fastbacks.” Thus began a career that would lead Roush to becoming the winningest NASCAR owner in history.
A native of Covington, Ky., Roush earned his master’s degree in scientific mathematics, an area of study needed to advance into engine research and development. He left Ford and worked briefly for Chrysler before teaming up with driver Wayne Gapp to form the Gapp & Roush drag racing team that went on to win championships in the National, American, and International Hot Rod Associations. Roush accomplished this while teaching mathematics, physics and automotive classes at a Michigan community college.
In 1976, Roush founded Roush Performance Engineering, and his reputation in drag racing led him to building engines for race teams. In 1982, he partnered with German racing team Zakspeed, and in conjunction with Ford Aerospace, Zakspeed-Roush constructed a carbon-fiber-tubed International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Mustang that won its first outing at Road America.
In 1984, Roush formed his own racing team, Roush-Protofab, which competed in the Sports Car Club of America and the IMSA. The Roush-Protofab team claimed 24 national championships and won 119 races. Roush also captured 10 consecutive sedan class championships at the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona.
In 2007, Roush Racing and Fenway Sports Group announced the formation of Roush Fenway Racing. Over the decades, Roush’s racing teams have amassed 325 NASCAR Points wins, the most of any, with cars and trucks helmed by iconic drivers like Mark Martin, Kyle Petty, Paul Newman and Bruce Jenner. Roush also is chairman of the board of Roush Enterprises, Inc., which employs more than 5,000 people and operates more than 50 facilities across North America, Europe and Asia. In 2019, Roush will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Honorary Alumnus Award – Silas House
Born in Lily, Ky., in 1971, Silas House is a New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including Clay’s Quilt(2001), A Parchment of Leaves(2003), The Coal Tattoo(2005), Eli the Good(2009), Same Sun Here(2012) and, most recently, Southernmost(2018), which has been nominated for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. House also has authored a book of creative nonfiction and three plays. He is a music journalist, environmental activist and columnist whose writing frequently appears in The New York Times and Salon and has been published in Time, Newsday, Oxford American,Garden and Gun and many other publications. His honors include the EB White Award, Appalachian Book of the Year, the Hobson Medal for Literature and the Nautilus Award. House’s fiction is known for its attention to the natural world, working class characters and the plight of rural places and people.
House is a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and is an invited member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers as well as the recipient of three honorary doctorates. House has been widely recognized for his social justice work—he was awarded the Intellectual Freedom Award from the National Council of English Teachers and the Helen Lewis Award for Community Service from the Appalachian Studies Association. House serves as the National Endowment for the Humanities chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College and on the fiction faculty of the Spalding University MFA in Creative Writing program.
House has earned degrees from Sue Bennett College, Eastern Kentucky University and Spalding University and was chosen as one of the ten emerging talents in the South by the Millennial Gathering of Writers at Vanderbilt University.
House currently lives in Berea with his husband, Jason Howard, two daughters and three dogs.