Purchase photos

Lt. governor returns to alma mater

9/19/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Tuesday was float-building day during homecoming week at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School in Hays. And most of the staff at the school weren't dressed for a special visitor.

But any day is special when an alumnus visits the local Catholic school, Principal Bill DeWitt said. So it didn't matter to DeWitt he was dressed in blue jeans and a long-sleeved casual sweater while giving the lieutenant governor of Kansas a tour of campus.

It was apparent it didn't matter a lick to Jeff Colyer, either. The lieutenant governor, a Hays native and a 1978 graduate of TMP, had a permanent smile on his face as he made his way around his old stomping grounds.

Colyer sighed, and his smile grew wider, when he walked into Room 107 on the bottom floor.

"Out of all my years of education, my best classes were here in this room," said Colyer, who went on to earn two bachelor's degrees from Georgetown University, a master's from Cambridge University and a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Kansas.

Colyer said his physics classes under Father Earl Meyer at TMP were the solid foundation that led him to become a plastic surgeon who has provided medical care in numerous foreign countries. He still practices medicine a couple of days a week, even while fulfilling his duties as lieutenant governor.

Colyer, who lives in the Kansas City area, was in his hometown Tuesday for some meetings, to tour Fort Hays State University and to attend a fundraiser for Sue Boldra, a Republican candidate for District III in the Kansas House of Representatives.

So DeWitt, a 1992 graduate of TMP, asked Colyer to stop by their alma mater.

"Welcome back," DeWitt told Colyer as the two embraced outside the school office.

"It's good to be home," Colyer replied.

Colyer thoroughly enjoyed himself as he dipped in and out of different classrooms and shared "remember whens" with DeWitt.

The group of visitors got caught in a crowded junior high hallway as the final class let out for the day.

DeWitt, who was in preschool when Colyer graduated from TMP, tried to make it clear this wasn't just any visitor dressed in a suit and wearing a Monarch blue tie.

"This is the lieutenant governor," DeWitt told the students as they glanced at the group of adults. "He's a graduate of TMP."

"Cool," one boy answered as he scurried down the hallway.

Colyer, who tries to make it back to the Hays area several times a year, mentioned Gov. Sam Brownback also was in western Kansas, in Ulysses, on this particular day.

DeWitt shrugged his shoulders as if that didn't faze him.

"I'm a fan of the governor," he said, "but we're a bigger fan of the lieutenant governor.

"We like our alums," DeWitt added.