David Gohn Named 2018 Distinguished Zizzer Alumnus Recipient
When extraordinary West Plains High School graduates come to mind, David Gohn is at the top of the list. Mr. Gohn graduated high school in 1959 and was a participant in football, baseball and served as the student body president. His class was the first to graduate from the “new” high school in 1959. Later he went on to University of Missouri-Columbia and Drury University, graduating with a degree in economics and later from the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin with a graduate degree in banking and finance.
Mr. Gohn has been a leader in our community and continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of West Plains Bank and Trust Company, where he has worked for more than 50 years. During this time, he has served in a multitude of capacities, from serving on local, state and national associations in both banking and education.
Several years ago, David chaired the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which is the state’s funding board for public universities and colleges. During his tenure, David helped create and secure funding for Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship program, designed to keep Missouri’s most talented young students in Missouri. This year, 18 West Plains High School students qualified for funding under the Bright Flight program which was created 32 years ago to ensure opportunities for thousands of young Missourians.
Locally, he’s provided innovative solutions for development and helped create opportunities too. During the early 1980s, David envisioned for West Plains a civic center that would house athletic programs, cultural venues, meeting and event space. A sizeable piece of property was needed within the city limits for such a project, and David rather easily convinced his mother-in-law to donate the commercial property needed for the venture. Once this vision had become a reality, David chaired the civic center’s board for many years and helped ensure financial viability.
More recently, David and his wife, Billie Kay; along with his sister, longtime public educator Virginia Gohn Sapp of St. Louis, donated funding for Gohn Hall on the MSU-West Plains campus to provide classroom space and the technological framework for the first local four-year and master's degree programs. This recent legacy gift is just one of many examples of David's lifelong service and financial support of education and civic initiatives, all of which have had a long-term impact on local students and the entire community.
Through his lifelong dedication, Mr. Gohn exemplifies the mission of West Plains Schools: “Education, Service, Life". Mr. Gohn has been married for 55 years to his high school sweetheart, Billie Kay (Farrar) Gohn. Together, they have three children; Jennifer (Gohn) Mahaffey, Courtney (Gohn) Beykirch and David M. Gohn. All three of Mr. Gohn's children are Zizzer alumni as well. His granddaughter, Caroline Gohn Beykirch, is also a 2018 WPHS graduate.
Mr. Gohn inspires others and sets an example of Zizzer pride and character. He gained knowledge and resources through the West Plains High School and from his community and later returned to give back a lifetime of service to his community. He has worked his entire life for the betterment of West Plains and his fellow Missourians. He is without a doubt a Distinguished Zizzer Alumnus.