MSU President Waded Cruzado presented Parac and Eliason their awards at the President's Homecoming Luncheon and Alumni Awards Ceremony, held Friday, Sept. 21.
The Blue and Gold Award honors those who have rendered great lifetime service or who have brought national or international distinction to MSU or to the state of Montana, according to the MSU Alumni Foundation. Candidates must have achieved prominence through service to one, or a combination of, profession, family, country, world, university, philanthropy or humanity. Recipients of the Blue and Gold Award are recommended by the MSU Alumni Foundation Alumni Advisory Board to the president of the university.
Thomas (Tom) Parac, 1954, secondary education, grew up in Lewistown. He played quarterback and basketball guard for the Montana State Bobcats, earning all-conference honors in both sports, and lettered in baseball as well. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army. After returning to Montana, he earned a master's degree in education administration from Montana State. Parac's master's thesis, a computerized football scouting analysis that was one of the first of its kind, was later used by the Dallas Cowboys to computerize their scouting system. They were the first professional team to do so.
Parac served as an assistant football coach for the Bobcats, beginning as a freshman team coach and rising up the ranks until he became MSU's 23rd head football coach in 1968, a year in which the Bobcats earned a share of the Big Sky Conference title. Parac was named director of athletics at Montana State in 1971, a position he held until 1985.
Among the high points of his career as athletic director, Parac hired Sonny Holland to succeed him as the head football coach, and the Bobcats won the national title in 1976. Parac was a driving force in the construction of MSU's Reno H. Sales Stadium, now Bobcat Stadium. He was also instrumental in the first remodel of Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and credited with much growth and prosperity of MSU's Athletic Scholarship Association, now the Bobcat Club.
Parac has been part of the Bozeman business community for more than two decades. He was a licensed real estate agent. Parac and his wife, Arty (Foster), owned Bozeman's Bargain Mart in the 1980s, and they currently own Falcon Storage.
Parac is a past president of the Bozeman Noon Rotary Club, and represented his local chapter at the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, South Korea. In 1992, he was named Rotarian of the Year.
Todd Eliason, graduated from MSU in 1974 with a commerce degree. After a short stint at a bank in Great Falls, Eliason left Montana and had a career in the telecommunications industry, working for GTE (now Verizon), GTE TSI (now Syniverse), Contel Cellular and Watchmark. In 2004, he formed Rock Creek Associates, a consulting and investment business primarily involved in early stage business planning and preparation for private financing.
Eliason returned to Bozeman in 2007. He is a frequent guest lecturer on campus. He serves on President Cruzado's Blue and Gold Marketing Commission, is a Leadership Institute Advisory Board member and has participated in the MSU Sustainability Campaign. Eliason also serves on the College of Business Advisory Board, is a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity Alumni Advisory Board and served on the IFC expansion task force. He has been a member and chair of the MSU Alumni Association board of directors and was instrumental in the creation of MSU's Alumni Plaza. He was also a leader in the dedication of the Alumni Legacy Lounge in the SUB. He has served on several university search committees, including the presidential search committee that resulted in the hiring of Cruzado.
Eliason is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club in Bozeman, a Big Sky Mountain Host, and is an accomplished marathon runner. His service and leadership stem from his college days when Eliason was a Fang, a leader in Sigma Nu fraternity, High School Week chair, Homecoming chair and on ASMSU's Finance Board. He was also a member of Septemviri, which designates MSU's top seven seniors.
Eliason, who grew up in Deer Lodge, was arguably "born a Bobcat." His father, Leonard Eliason, graduated in 1936 and was a campus leader as well. Brothers Monte, Kim and Lon Eliason also attended and graduated from MSU. Eliason is married to MSU alumna Arlene (Williams), who graduated in 1977 with a degree in home economics. They have two children; Marcus and Amy.
Phillip Luebke, 406-994-2416, firstname.lastname@example.org