2020 Distinguished Alumni Deborah McCaslin Broken Bow High School Class of 1969 

2020 Distinguished Alumni Deborah McCaslin Broken Bow High School Class of 1969 
Front row (L-R): Kateri and Liam McCaslin. Second row (L-R): Jess, Nichole and Ryan McCaslin, Deb McCaslin, Penny Ashenfelter and Keely Butler. Back row ( L-R): Tim McCaslin, Charlene Connley and Norm McCaslin.

BROKEN BOW–Deborah McCaslin, a 1969 graduate of Broken Bow High School, has been named the 2020 Distinguished Alumni recipient. 

The Broken Bow High School All-Alumni weekend would have kicked-off on July 10 and on July 11 for the All-Alumni Luncheon to announce the 2020 Distinguished Alumni recipient. The 2020 All-Alumni activities were cancelled due to Covid-19 but the committee plans to have a 2 year celebration with the Honored Classes ending in 0 & 5 and 1 & 6 on July 9 & 10, 2021.

The BBHS Alumni Committee still wanted to award and recognize the 2020 Distinguished Alumni recipient this year, Deb McCaslin, who has distinguished herself through community service, a career in journalism, and her love of music.

After traveling worldwide with her husband, Norm, for nearly 30 years, McCaslin returned to Broken Bow and became involved in the Custer County Chief newspaper. She was a writer, editor, and eventually publisher of the paper that was founded by her grandfather and owned by her father until the 1980’s. 

As publisher, Deb promoted community projects to raise awareness of needs in the area. She was instrumental in organizing the Custer County Hero Flight to take World War II veterans to Washington, D. C. The flight was a first in Nebraska, and the project has been replicated by other communities in the state. Deb was also chair of the National Press Association’s Government Relations Committee and used that platform campaigning to keep some small-town post offices open guaranteeing reasonable mail delivery and fair competition for community newspapers. 

Alberta Crawley (right) presents the 2020 Distinguished Alumni plaque to recipient Deb McCaslin (left).

Deb earned the Leadership Nebraska Award from the Nebraska Press Association, for her community leadership. She volunteered as press representative for Custer County Emergency Management and leveraged FEMA training into the county’s emergency preparedness program. She was an active member of the Custer Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) from its inception. After retirement from the newspaper, she served as interim Executive Director for CEDC, helping develop community housing projects and revitalizing use of Community Development Block Grants. 

As a member of Rotary, Deb became involved in Alliance for Smiles, a program that provides medical support for children with cleft lips and pallets. She made many volunteer trips to the Republic of China and to Africa as a photographer and recorder for medical teams. Her work in Rotary continues internationally, promoting funding for an educational program in Zimbabwe, and locally as a leader at both the local and district levels. 

Deb was instrumental in bringing the TeamMates program to Custer County. She founded the Broken Bow Community Thanksgiving Dinner, and she is chair of the Children’s Christmas Fund. She was a committee chair for the statewide economic development initiative, Blueprint Nebraska. Her community leadership efforts earned her the First Lady of Nebraska’s Outstanding Community Service Award for Lifetime achievement and the AARP Nebraska Andrus award for community service. 

After graduating from high school, Deb studied at Hastings College, the University of Nebraska and the University of Arizona, earning bachelor’s and mater’s degrees in music performance. While traveling worldwide with her husband Norm, during his Air Force career, she performed oboe with the National Orchestra of Taiwan, the Darmstadt Chamber Orchestra in Germany, the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington D.C. as well as other orchestral groups. While stationed in Germany and Taiwan, Deb published newspapers that provided vital information to families with deployed spouses. 

Deborah and Norman have three adult children and six grandchildren. Stephanie and her family live in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Jeff and his family live in Omaha, Nebraska. Tim and his family live in Broken Bow, Nebraska.