The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to an alumnus/a, who exemplifies the College of Central Florida’s tradition of excellence through their personal accomplishments, professional achievements, or humanitarian service. One recipient is selected each year.
CF Distinguished Alumni 2021
Each year, the College of Central Florida and the CF Alumni Association honors the accomplishments of an outstanding alumni who exemplifies the College of Central Florida’s Patriot Pride of achievement, excellence and service to their communities.
This year’s recipient is Ire J. Bethea Sr. Bethea retired after a combined 30 years of service with the City of Ocala and the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County and currently represents District 2 on the Ocala City Council. He is a lifelong resident of Ocala and a graduate of Ocala High School, Central Florida Community College (now the College of Central Florida) and St. Leo University.
Bethea’s service in the community did not end when the work day ended at 5 p.m. He is credited with volunteering for multiple organizations and committees across the community throughout his career and retirement; many of his volunteer efforts were geared towards helping Marion County’s youth.
He is a graduate of Leadership Ocala/Marion Alumni, Class XVII; was inducted into the African American Museum of Marion County in 2015; Past-Polemarch of the Gainesville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; received Man of the Year Award in 2006 from the Alumni Chapter, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; and serves as a Deacon at New St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
Bethea is Chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission and has received many awards including the Racial Harmony & Cultural Awareness “Unsung Hero Award” in 2011, the NAACP’s “Service and Uplift to the Community Award” in 2015 and the Rotary “Service Above Self Award” in 2019.
He has been married to Gloria F. Bethea for 29 years and they have seven children.
“It is an honor to recognize Councilman Bethea with our 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award,” said Marc Stalvey, CF Alumni Committee Chair. “his entire career has been about service and his work to make Ocala a better place did not end when he went off the job – he represents the best of CF graduates.”
Previous CF Distinguished Alumni
- May 1996: The Honorable Craig Curry
- Aug. 1997: Richard Knight
- May 2001: Morrey Deen
- Aug. 2001: The Honorable Mary Sue Rich
- Dec. 2001: Lewis Dinkins
- May 2002: Jim Williams
- Aug. 2002: Mary Steddom
- Dec. 2002: Jim Huber
- May 2003: Roy Abshier
- Dec. 2003: Kay Johnson Boyer
- Aug. 2004: Bobby James
- 2005: Lori Hornby
- Aug. 2005: Michael Mangan
- May 2006: The Honorable Gerald Ergle
- Dec. 2006: Judge Hale R. Stancil
- Fall 2007: Van McKenzie
- Spring 2008: Dean Blinkhorn
- Fall 2008: Sandra Himmel
- Spring 2009: Clinton Hart
- Spring 2010: Dr. Stacey Dickson
- Spring 2011: The Honorable Charles Dean
- Spring 2012: Gloria James
- Spring 2013: George Tomyn
- May 2014: Sindy Schneider
- May 2015: Sheriff Chris Blair
- May 2016: Capt. Shane Ferguson
- Dec. 2016: Mike Joyner
- May 2017: Judge Carlos E. Mendoza
- May 2018: Luther Drummond
- May 2019: John and Shirley Rudnianyn
- May 2020: Benjamin Marciano