As Iowa Central Community College prepares to host the Focus International Festival of Nations today, the individual behind bringing the series to Iowa Central will also be remembered.
The Dr. Mary Sula Linney Focus Series is named for Linney, an educator who gave more than 40 years of service to the college until her death in 2006.
"Mary Sula Linney had such a passion for this program," said Patty Croonquist a member of the Focus International Committee. "She helped start the series as a program with several other community colleges. It started with just one country every year."
"She had a vision to add an international element to the campus," said Joanne Gruver, liberal arts and sciences secretary at Iowa Central. "When the series discontinued among the colleges, she made sure it was going to continue at Iowa Central."
That was nearly 25 years ago, and the series has since grown to include the entire college, the community and several countries displaying their wares, traditions, people, music and food.
"Everyone is involved in some way," said Gruver. "There is so much that so many are able to contribute. The language arts program selects a book from the focus country to use in their classes, we have people who research, the music department uses the country in their activities, the art department studies art from the feature country even the Karl King Band uses the country of focus in one of their spring concerts."
"This is everybody's event," said Croonquist.
Linney had a passion for working with international students and bringing them to Iowa Central, Croonquist said.
Croonquist came to Iowa Central in 1977 as an international student from Chile, and was inspired by Linney many years before they became colleagues in the language arts department.
"She was my mentor, teacher and friend," said Croonquist.
A 2010 Messenger editorial honoring Linney described her as a "dedicated champion of Iowa Central."
She helped start the dental hygiene program and helped launch a developmental education program at the school. She served the Fort Dodge community in various capacities including being a member of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum board of directors, Trinity Regional Medical Center Board of Directors, Community Action Network board, Multicultural Resource Center advisory board and executive board, Fort Dodge City Planning and Zoning Commission, Women's Professional Network, Webster County Development Board, League of Women Voters board of directors, Greater Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce, Daybreak Rotary Club and the Governor's Zoning Board. She was also honored by the Chamber as an Athena Award recipient, and in 2010 was posthumously recognized as a recipient of the Triton Humanitarian Award.
Linney died in 2006 as planning for the Festival of Nations was under way.
"When she passed away, her family told us we needed to go on so we have kept this going," said Croonquist.
"We said we would go on and this is a way of honoring her name," said Gruver.