I.T. Alumni

July 20th, 2015

Lois Seitz Kreider

Lois Seitz Kreider, class of ’68, was director of computer services at EMC in the mid 1970s. (Photo by Randi B. Hagi)

This article covers alumni that we missed including in the Fall/Winter 2014-15 issue of Crossroads focusing on alumni in information technology.

Lois Seitz Kreider, class of ‘68

The Seitz family has a long history with the EMU community. The parents of Lois Seitz Kreider met at Eastern Mennonite High School, class of 1934, and she and her five siblings all attended EMHS and EMU. Studying and working here “was like having an extended family.” She studied at EMU for one year, married Philip Kreider, and left for a voluntary service term.

They returned in 1967, and she worked for her brother Delbert Seitz ’64 in the EMU financial office. Dwight Wyse ’68 then took over the department, and Seitz Kreider became his assistant until a new computer system was installed. With the advent of this new technology, she became the director of computer services, serving 1975-78. She looks back on that system as “archaic,” having spent immeasurable time compiling programs by punching cards and running them through the computer. Seitz Kreider taught herself most of the skills for the position, while receiving some training in Massachusetts and Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

After her husband graduated in 1976 and was ordained, the couple moved to Albany, Oregon. “The first thing I did was get a computer,” says Seitz Kreider. On an early Apple, she began an accounting business for over 35 clients: small businesses and truck drivers. In the meantime, Wyse had founded Computer Management and Development Services (CMDS), and offered the couple jobs back in Harrisonburg. In the summer of 1984, they moved to Virginia, and became employees of CMDS.

With CMDS, Seitz Kreider and her husband traveled as a team across the U.S. and Canada, installing software and training colleges to use the administrative suite. Seitz Kreider handled registration, payroll and the business office, while her husband did admissions, financial aid, and development.

By 2003, Philip Kreider ’76 had retired from the business, which had been acquired by another company, Jenzabar. Seitz Kreider was in the business office as an accountant when her position was moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The final years of her career were spent in the business office of Rockingham Construction and then with Blue Ridge Architects owned by her nephew, Randy Seitz, class of ’87. Retired for five years, Seitz Kreider is still immersed in the computer and accounting world as the volunteer bookkeeper for Harrisonburg’s Ten Thousand Villages.

Lamar Weaver ‘72

Lamar Weaver graduated with a degree in physics from EMU, and entered the I.T. field in 1987. In 1991, he founded the company TCW Computer Systems, Inc., at the Landis Family Farm in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania. Now based in Manheim, Pennsylvania, TCW Computer Systems provides a variety of services for networking and software solutions, data storage, business communication systems, and computer, audio, and video equipment sales and repairs. Weaver is owner and president of the 27-employee managed service company, which has employed various EMU graduates over the years.

Ron Helmuth, class of ‘74

Ron Helmuth, who graduated with a BA in social studies from New College in Sarasota, Florida, and an MBA in accounting and information systems from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, served as I.T. director at EMU from 1994 to 1998. He led an eight-person department, focusing on updating EMU’s technology systems. Among many co-workers whom Helmuth remembers fondly, I.T. department secretary Kaye Washington-Pride “was also an inspiring presence to our students of color, and there was a constant stream of those students who stopped by for her calm affirmation.”

Helmuth and his wife, Elena, then relocated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Helmuth joined Moravian College’s Center for Information Technology as its director. He has also worked with IBM in engineering and management, taught courses in networking and education technology, and served as a bilingual program specialist in the Federal Migrant and Farmworkers’ Program (he’s fluent in Spanish). Helmuth currently owns a financial services business, and considers himself “the banker of the marginally banked and unbanked of Bethlehem.” This line of work also allows him the flexibility to volunteer with organizations such as the local halfway house and the ski patrol at Blue Mountain ski area.

Rich Wenger, ‘78

Rich Wenger graduated from EMU with a BA in Music, and has been involved with the Lexington MasterSingers and the Spectrum Singers choir. In the mid-80s, Wenger joined the I.T. field, including working as a programmer at the Harvard University library for three years. He assumed a position with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology library in 2003, where he is now the E-Resource Systems Manager. Wenger programs and provides support for Unix, SFX, MetaLib, Ezproxy, and Aleph systems. He writes primarily in Perl, Javascript, HTML, with some Java.

Eric Shenk ‘83

As recalled by math professor emeritus Joe Mast ’64, Eric Shenk of Phoenix, Arizona, was one of the first computer science graduates at EMU. Shenk also majored in mathematics and business administration. Shenk spent two years working for CMDS in Harrisonburg, a predecessor to Jenzabar. Then he went to Stanford University for a master’s in computer science.

Shenk was the second software engineer hired at Inuit in its start-up years, working mostly in the business products group (QuickBooks) for ten years. He then left and did software engineering for: Netpulse, which designs touch-screen computers on exercise equipment; OffRoad Capital, an online investment auction house; and PayCycle, an employee payroll system. In 2009, Shenk returned to the “mother ship,” Intuit, in a software engineering role. His main professional goal, he says on his LinkedIn page, is “to be a high-enough impact guy that I can retire in time to see my kids grow up and volunteer for organizations I care about.”

Larion Hostetler ‘88

Larion Hostetler of Linville, Virginia, first entered the I.T. world under Dwight Wyse and CMDS between his sophomore and junior year at EMU. That opportunity started his journey to becoming the vice president of information technology at Eagle Corp., which owns local building and engineering companies: Allied Concrete Co.; Allied Concrete Products, LLC; Americast; Eagle Bay; Filterra; and Valley Building Supply, Inc. He manages all I.T. for Eagle’s facilities, which provide lumber, concrete manufacturing, and other building materials for clients from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

“I get a lot out of helping others and making something better,” says Hostetler, for which technology is one tool. He describes IT in this business as being a “hidden component,” such as the software used to take inventory or track deliveries. Hostetler is an active member of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council, from which he and his department received the “Innovation Technology Application Award” in 2006 for integrating a company-wide voice and data communication system. Hostetler says he values his involvement with the Council, which provides recognition, networking, and promotion of technology work in Harrisonburg.

Hostetler has been on the board of Park View Federal Credit Union since 2007 and is its current board chair. He is a member of Lindale Mennonite Church. His daughter Madeline Hostetler is a current student at EMU.

Eric Yoder, class of ‘93

Eric Yoder, who has run two small businesses for the last 20 years, also acts as the manager of network services in Holmes County, Ohio, for ARCIS Technology Group. Founded in 2002, ARCIS provides consulting, I.T. support, and data storage services for the surrounding Ohio counties. For over 10 years, Yoder has run Stone Wheel Technologies Ltd., designing solutions for small business owners to increase productivity and efficiency. His technical knowledge base includes Microsoft Active Directory, IP phones, wired and wireless networking, and other vendor-specific applications.

Christine Chavis, class of ‘96

“It’s been an interesting road,” Christine Chavis says of her winding path through education and into the workforce. Chavis grew up in an atmosphere of business savvy – her father was an entrepreneur. She started post-secondary education at EMU in 1992, as a business administration major. After two years, she returned to her home state, attending Ohio State and majoring in philosophy. While that field of study was more fulfilling, Chavis thought it was “sort of impractical,” and transferred to Eastern Michigan University to study economics.

In her first I.T. job, she did data entry as a temporary employee with Cardinal Health in Ohio. After a few months, they hired her full-time to work with SAP software – applications for payroll, accounting, and other enterprise needs. During a company-wide system upgrade, Cardinal Health tapped Chavis to train employees and test the new software. With no formal technical training, she learned by experience how to test and document software problems, relying on her familial business savvy to interpret her findings for consultants and colleagues.

Chavis next took a liaison position with Amerisource Bergen in Pennsylvania. When an issue occurs or software change is requested, Chavis documents the event and then translates “business speak” into technical needs. She now works from home in South Carolina, and was recently promoted to the lead of her field in SAP software.

“I love the problem solving. I’m a people person,” Chavis says. In graduate school, she wondered how she would apply her education. Crunching numbers in a cubicle did not interest her. “This role has allowed me to problem-solve using my analytical skills, and also interact with people. . . this is my job!”