Gary "Peanut" Adams, Central High School, Class of 1988

  • Gary Adams

    Teamwork and duty were important to Gary Adams along his path to become an outstanding athlete at Central High School and University of Arkansas. Those traits also serve him well today while protecting U.S. presidents as a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service.

    During high school, Adams, known by many as Peanut, which was the nickname bestowed upon him by his father, was a varsity starter in football and basketball. He was twice selected all-state, all-conference and all-district in football. He went on to play quarterback and safety for the Arkansas Razorbacks. All the while he kept his sights on his goal of following in his father’s footsteps to become a police officer.

    Upon graduation from University of Arkansas, Adams joined the Arkansas Highway Patrol and later was accepted into the Secret Service. He has investigated financial crimes including forgery, identity theft and credit card fraud and completed protection details for foreign dignitaries and past presidents including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

    When Adams was assigned to Dallas, he joined the protection team for former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura, serving the family for four years. As a Secret Service agent, Adams had to adopt the hobbies of his protectees. When President Bush picked up running, Adams joined him. When the former president got into cycling, Adams found himself on a bike.

     In 2014, Adams was honored for his athletic career when he was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame for distinguished high school and collegiate accomplishments in football and basketball.

Mark Arnoldy, Kickapoo High School, Class of 2005

  • Mark Arnoldy

    Even in high school Mark Arnoldy knew he was an overachiever. He was on the track team, served on student council, ran for and won student body president his senior year and was in Future Business Leaders of America. What he didn’t know was that he would become an entrepreneur with the goal of providing health care to people across the globe.

    As the 30-year-old CEO of Possible, a nonprofit that delivers integrated primary health care throughout rural Nepal, Arnoldy has built his career on social entrepreneurship, and it all started thanks to an allergy attack. 

    While in college, Arnoldy spent time in China and Nepal supporting a Denver-based nonprofit organization. He was visiting Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, when Arnoldy went into anaphylactic shock. He needed access to urgent medical care for his life-threatening peanut allergy. Arnoldy was shocked to see the limited to health care, especially for the country’s rural residents. This realization prompted him to take on the challenge of designing health care systems to make sure the poorest and most marginalized receive proper care.

    Since starting to deliver health care in 2008 with Arnoldy at the helm, Possible has treated 500,000 patients and built a network of hospitals, clinics and teams of local female community health workers. In 2014, Arnoldy presented Possible’s sustainable health care model at a TEDx talk. He was a 2014 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur and was named a 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum. In 2016, Arnoldy was inducted into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame.

Gary and Patricia (Adams) Presley, Hillcrest High School, Class of 1965 and 1966

  • Gary and Patricia Presely

    Branson’s first music theater opened 50 years ago and with it Gary and Patricia Presley launched a business and a partnership that would establish their family as a cornerstone of Branson’s entertainment and tourism industry.

    Although Presleys’ Country Jubilee opened its doors in 1967 to entertain guests with a mix of comedy, bluegrass and gospel performances, Gary Presley, better known as the comedic Herkimer on stage, says it might never have happened had it not been for one fateful fire drill at Hillcrest High School where he ended up standing next to Patricia Adams.

    The couple married a few months before the Presley family opened their theater along Highway 76—the glittering strip now crowded with theaters, restaurants and arenas. It was nothing more than a big metal box with folding chairs for 360 people. The show eventually gained national attention from television shows like “60 Minutes” and “Good Morning America” and today the theater seats 1,600 people and features three generations of Presleys. Gary and his brother Steve, who joined the show when he was 10, are the only original members still in the show. Patricia runs the front of house, managing anything and everything from customer inquiries to securing new costumes, which for the past 30 years have been made in Hollywood. 

    The Presleys put on 230 live shows a year at the theatre plus 26 TV shows broadcast on RFD-TV to a weekly audience of 400,000 nationwide. 

Last Modified on April 10, 2019