Johns named ‘Family of the Year’


The Johns family attended the alumni breakfast on Saturday morning. A few members of the family of the clan was not in attendance. Photo courtesy of the Marketing Department.

Story by Julia Sanders, Writer

Since 1972, the Alumni Office gives out the “Family of the Year” award annually to a Baker family. This process consists of a recommendation from the Director of Alumni Relations Doug Barth to President Lynne Murray who then approves the selection.

This year, the award was given to the Johns family.

When deciding what family to nominate, Barth typically looks for an array of qualities.

“We look at Baker families who are engaged with Baker, whether through their attendance at university events or alumni gatherings, philanthropically or through volunteering or mentoring,” Barth said.

Using these parameters, the Johns family was chosen.

Rewind back to the ‘80s, the initial Johns family member to make a contribution at Baker was the patriarch, Ken Johns, who was a football coach known by the name of “Coach” rather than Ken.

Ken then brought his two sons, Dave and Steve who graduated in 1989 and 1991, respectively.

Both men came with intentions to play football, however, injuries cut both their seasons short. Despite that, they were still involved in other areas, specifically as members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

While at Baker, both Dave and Steve met their current wives. Kelly Nawroth, who married Dave, graduated in 1991 and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and the tennis team.

According to her son, freshman Griffin Johns, she had offers from bigger schools but was drawn to Baker.

“My mom had scholarship offers from bigger schools than Baker, and she told me she came to Baker because she really liked the tennis team they had and she liked the coach,” Griffin said. “She also really liked the family aspect that came with Baker.”

After attending Baker, Dave and Kelly had three sons, two of whom are current students at Baker. Senior Cooper and his brother Griffin are both involved in the football program and are members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity like their uncle and father were.

A similar story unfolds with Steve Johns. Steve married Becky Holloway, who was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and the cheerleading team, before graduating in 1991. Steve and Becky had two children, Ryenn and freshman Jace.

Ryenn was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority like her mother, and graduated in 2017. Similarly, Jace is also a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

This broad and lengthy history was a large reason behind the family receiving the “Family of the Year” award.

“[This award] has been a long-standing tradition at Baker. Baker is proud of the family ties that are created here,” Barth said. “We talk about the ‘Baker magic’ a lot and I think it all starts with our alumni and the experiences they had as a student and wanting to pass that along to other members of their family. Baker University really is a small world and you’d be surprised how many alumni are connected with one another because of family.”