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Life After ACBSP: Two Colleagues and Friends Celebrate Retirement Together

From the ACBSP archives: This article was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of ACBSP Update.

Shirly Kleiner, CMA, chair, Accounting Department, Business Division at Johnson County Community College, and Sue Courtney, business professor at Kansas City Kansas Community College, are two familiar faces at ACBSP Annual Conferences and Region 5 fall meetings. What many might not know is that while Shirly and Sue were building successful careers as business educators in the Kansas City area and helping other colleagues understand the value of ACBSP accreditation, they had also developed a lifelong friendship.

Shirly and Sue's Retirement BalloonsShirly and Sue visited the ACBSP offices together in the summer of 2012, announcing that they would both be retiring in May 2013. They had experienced so much of life together — both personally and professionally — that they chose to celebrate retirement together as well.

“The story of our friendship goes back to the early 1980’s, when Sue’s dad, Jim Vomhof, took me under his wing and mentored me on my educational path,” Shirly explained. “I was included in some of their family events, especially parties for the JCCC business division. I met Sue, and she and I instantly had a bond that sometimes happens between people that ensures that they will become good friends,” she said.

The friendship between Shirly and Sue grew as they supported each other in their educational pursuits, with Shirly obtaining an MBA from the University of Kansas and Sue earning a PhD from Kansas State University.

They have been active members of ACBSP through the years, serving on the Board of Directors together — Shirly as the two-year member-at-large and Sue as secretary. Shirly was appointed ACBSP president in 2011-12.

During those years they also became close to another beloved member of ACBSP, Janice Stoudemire, ACBSP president 2009-10. “Janice, Shirly, and I were the ‘three amigos’ when we served on the Board—we had the perfect combination of humor and commitment to academic excellence that resulted in positive achievements in our work with ACBSP,” Sue said.

The love and respect Shirly and Sue have for one another is evident. Shirly said, “Sue is a beautiful combination of traits from her dad, Jim, and her mom, Pat. She treats the people she meets as precious treasurers. I am so glad that God gave me Sue as a friend and that she and I can share retirement together. When her dad, Jim, died in December 2012, I was there for her and for her family and tried to help them during their time of grief. When my dad died in July 2013, Sue was there beside me all along the way.”

“Shirly is my best friend. She is thoughtful, caring, loving, accepting, funny, forgiving, adventuresome, open-minded, committed, creative, wise, and a devoted Christian,” said Sue. “We have enjoyed parallel careers and were thrilled to share our retirement party!”

The Board of Directors awarded Shirly Emeritus Member status in May 2013, and her retirement plans definitely include ACBSP. “Being part of the Past Presidents group is an awesome experience and I hope that I can be an asset to the ACBSP organization for many years to come.”

Update: Shirly Kleiner continues to be an asset to ACBSP, in fact Dr. Dewayne Thompson, chair, ACBSP Board of Directors 2015-17, honored Shirly with the first Chair’s Award in 2017 for “exceptional service to ACBSP.”