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Distinguished Alumni

The Rossman School Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes men and women, living or deceased, who, by outstanding achievement, exemplify the values taught by Rossman School — leadership, citizenship, creativity, humanity and love of learning. This award, presented every five years, is the highest honor bestowed to our alumni. The first Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented in 1993, coinciding with the school’s 75th anniversary celebration. Forty alumni have received the award to date. Learn more about the recipients below (* indicates deceased).

Nominations are now being accepted for the 105th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Awards presentation. Visit the nomination form here.

75th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

An important cultural and civic leader in St. Louis, Kimmy Brauer has been nationally recognized for her volunteer work as a fundraiser. She has not only served on the boards of many cultural and charitable organizations but also directed numerous successful benefits for them. At the time of the 75th Distinguished Alumni Awards, highlights of Kimmy’s community volunteer work included serving on the boards of Opera Theater of St. Louis and Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis (who named her “Woman of the Year” in 1992) and as president of the St. Louis Art Museum Board. Since then, Kimmy has continued to positively impact the region through service and leadership. She and her husband, Stephen, are also dedicated philanthropists whose generosity has benefitted countless community organizations, including Washington University, which named the Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall to honor the couple’s longstanding devotion to and impact on the University.

An exemplary environmentalist, Leo has been widely recognized for the significant role he played in preserving and protecting Missouri’s natural resources. Because of his love for the land and his dedication to preserving the earth, he established the L-A-D Foundation to protect natural areas and developed a system of conservative land management that will serve as a model for all those concerned about the planet. Leo was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Forest Product Industries for his pioneering work. He also helped form the Open Space Council in 1965 and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment in 1969 and was instrumental in Congress’s establishment of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a national park along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers.

The youngest man in St. Louis history to be elected circuit attorney, Tom Eagleton quickly rose through the ranks of government to serve 18 years in the United States Senate. During his three terms as a senator, Sen. Eagleton’s leadership significantly impacted the nation. He was especially noted for his work in foreign relations, health care, education, the environment, and defense. Sen. Eagleton was the chief author of the federal War Powers Act, which limits the authority of the president to wage war without congressional approval, and he was one of the principal sponsors of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972. He also co-authored the legislation creating federal higher-education aid (now known as Pell Grants), and he helped create the National Institute on Aging.

A decorated war veteran, Ashley Gray was a noted leader in business and in the community. He guided his company, General Steel, to a position of prominence and headed monumentally successful fundraising campaigns for St. Louis charitable organizations. Among the organizations to benefit from Ashley’s leadership are Civic Progress, Railway Progress Institute, Missouri Pacific Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad, First National Bank and Centerre Bank, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Missouri Historical Society, the St. Louis chapter of the American Red Cross, St. Louis University, St. Louis Country Day School, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Ranken Technical College.

An internationally popular stage and film actor, Kevin Kline has received numerous accolades, including two Tony awards, an Oscar and the first honorary doctorate ever presented by The Julliard School. At the time of Rossman’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Awards, Kevin had recently been named director of the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York. Since then, he has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and recognized with a Drama Desk Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, St. Louis International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and various other honors. He also was presented with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Humanitarian of the year award in 2004.

Business leader Mike McCarthy is a creator, a builder and a man of progressive vision. As president and chairman of the board, he led his company, McCarthy, to rank as the largest healthcare builder and one of the top construction management firms in America. Under Mike’s leadership, McCarthy also became a national leader in parking structure construction and implemented industry-leading techniques and concepts to become one of the nation’s safest builders. Shortly after Mike received Rossman’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the McCarthy Employee Stock Ownership Plan was established, and in 2002, Mike sold his majority ownership interest in the company to its employees, making McCarthy one of the nation’s oldest, 100 percent employee-owned construction firms.

While widely known for his astute leadership as president and chairman of McDonnell Douglas Automation Company, the service and philanthropy Bill Orthwein directed to area cultural and charitable organizations has had an almost legendary impact on the St. Louis community. He served on the Board of Directors for many organizations, including St. Luke’s Hospital, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Missouri Historical Society, the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Science Center, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, enabling them to become extraordinary institutions. He treasured his days at Rossman School, saying they were “more meaningful in my life than any other educational experience.”

A politician, a businessman, a philanthropist, an educator and in the St. Louis region perhaps most widely known as a former St. Louis County Supervisor, Larry Roos played a significant role in creating and sustaining our community. Following two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, Larry dedicated 12 years to St. Louis County. His administration brought many positive changes including improved infrastructure and police training and the addition of several county parks. Following his political career, Larry became executive vice-president and a director of First National Bank of St. Louis then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He also served the community in a variety of other capacities, including as the chairman of the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council and director of the Greater St. Louis United Fund.

Honored with Rossman’s Distinguished Alumni Award posthumously, Johnson Spink was recognized for his outstanding accomplishments as publisher of The Sporting News (TSN), and his leadership in the many civic organizations he chose to favor. Involved with TSN for nearly 50 years, Johnson was credited with saving “America’s Baseball Bible” by broadening its sports coverage and modernizing its design. Among the organizations Johnson served as a board member are The Muny, the Missouri Botanical Garden the Kammergild, the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri Corporation for Science and Technology. He was a commissioner of the St. Louis Zoo and a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. 

80th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

This extraordinary couple was recognized for their outstanding contributions to children. Parents of four children of their own, an accident to one of them led the Ewings to see the desperate need for a facility in the St. Louis area to help mentally challenged children lead a nearly normal life. Rumsey joined the Board of the St. Louis Association for Retarded Children (now Citizens) and Rosalie headed their capital fund drive. Under their leadership, $2.5 million was raised to create Rainbow Village, an organization providing homes for people with developmental disabilities, which has evolved into a campus including eight group homes, a residential learning center, day-care facilities and a center for community recreation.

Chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Pulitzer Publishing Company and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Michael Pulitzer began his career as a Boston lawyer. From there he went into journalism as a reporter on the Louisville Courier-Journal. In 1960, he moved to St. Louis to join the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a general assignment reporter. He rose through the ranks, serving as news editor, assistant managing editor, associate editor and then president and COO, ultimately serving as CEO and chairman of the board. Michael has been a trustee of St. Louis University and a member of the board of Sportsmen’s Fund in Tucson, which operates a summer camp for underprivileged youth.

Leadership defined Oscar Rexford and the impressive record of service and accomplishment for which he was honored. Oscar served with distinction in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war he returned home to St. Louis and served as general manager of the St. Louis Public Service Company, a mass transportation company. From there he went on to serve as president of Blue Cross Blue Shield for 15 years. Author of the award-winning The History of the University Club of St. Louis, he also wrote about the exploits of his wife during World War II with the American Red Cross in Battlestars and Doughnuts. A lifelong member and leader of Central Presbyterian Church, Oscar made service to his fellowman a hallmark of his life.

Grandsons of the co-founder of May Department Stores, John, Robert and Sydney Shoenberg were devoted to continuing their family’s legacy of philanthropy and civic involment. On their own and through the Shoenberg Foundation, these men made a significant impact on many St. Louis area charitable organizations, including the Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Robert and Sydney co-owned Sydney M. Shoenberg & Co. a private investment company. Robert served on the board of directors for the Bank of America, the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, the St. Louis Art Museum and the American Red Cross. Sydney held board positions for Jewish Hospital, the Botanical Garden, and the old Boatmen’s Trust Co. John, who passed away in 1974, received the Distinguished Alumni Award posthumously. 

85th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The Buck Family, comprising three dedicated Rossman alumni, has impacted the St. Louis community and beyond not only through their outstanding achievements in the broadcasting field, but also through extensive contributions to community organizations and through their exemplary work as a family. Carole is a former singer and Broadway actress. Her son, Joe, is an award winning sportscaster, and her daughter, Julie, is an accomplished radio personality and president of Joe Buck, Inc. The Buck’s philanthropic endeavors have benefited a host of organizations, including the Children’s Miracle Network, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Our Little Haven and the Parkinson’s Foundation. 

“The only things you can truly give your children are a lot of love and a good education.” This was the Cadys’ philosophy, and they spent their lives making this concept a reality. Endeavoring to provide their four children with the very best education possible led Barbara and Phil to become involved with each of the schools the children attended. Eventually their involvement spread to educational programs far beyond the family boundaries. Their philanthropy enabled countless improvements in educational institutions and provided help and encouragement to innumerable children through scholarships and programming support. Beneficiaries of their efforts include independent schools, special schools for children, children’s hospitals, programs for students to study abroad, and the United Negro College Fund.

After graduating from Amherst College, Tom Collins served his country in World War II, first in the Army and then in the Air Force, attaining the final rank of 1st Lieutenant. He then moved into the sales field, ultimately owning General Van & Storage Company. In the mid-1970s, he also was president of the National Movers and Warehouseman’s Association. Beyond his professional life, Tom gave of himself in service to numerous organizations — Rossman School, MICDS, the United Way, the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, and Forest Park Children’s Center. In addition to Rossman’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, Tom received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts, and the honor medal from St. Louis Country Day School.

Jim Howe and Rossman School—The two names are quite synonymous. Not only did Jim attend Rossman, his children and grandchildren attended as well. Jim was involved with the school throughout each generation. He helped make the pivotal decision to move Rossman from the Delmar campus to the current location on Conway Road and then helped raise the funds to construct the school building. Howe served on the Board of Trustees for 11 years and even after that returned to Rossman many times to help keep the school growing and improving. Jim also served many community organizations such as the United Way Allocation Committee, Consolidated Neighborhood Services, Inc., the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association and the Missouri Historical Society.

90th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Andrew Benecke’s impeccable academic record was even more remarkable when considering he had fought osteosarcoma since he was a freshman in high school. In seven years, Andrew endured 15 surgeries and 54 cycles of chemotherapy, but he never allowed the disease to deter his academic progression. One of two valedictorians of the MICDS Class of 2006, Andrew earned recognition as a National Merit Scholar and a Presidential Scholar, achieved a perfect ACT score and received too many academic awards to mention. He planned to attend MIT, but a recurrence of cancer forced him to remain close to home. He was a third year student at Washington University, majoring in systems engineering and economics, when he lost his courageous battle with osteosarcoma in 2008.

Despite heavy demands as a partner at a major California law firm, Ken Brakebill gives a great deal back to his community. In 2006, Ken was honored by the California Bar Association as “California Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.” He is also a recipient of the California Lawyer’s Angel Award for his ongoing commitment to pro bono work. Before beginning his law career, Ken experienced a very successful academic and athletic life. He is a graduate of Stanford, the University of California’s Hastings Law School and Harvard Law School. At Stanford, he was an All-American swimmer and captain of the NCAA’s top-ranked swim team. He was also a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and participant. 

For more than 35 years, Arthur Lueking has been a prominent figure in the fine arts in St. Louis. Since 1981, he has served as Director of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts at Webster University. During that time, he has supervised numerous enhancements at the Center, including an orchestra pit renovation, a lobby and scene shop addition and a production addition. Arthur also is an adjunct faculty member with the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University. In addition to serving as a Rossman School trustee for two eight-year terms, Arthur has been chairman of the Entertainment Committee for The VP Fair Foundation and chairman of Fair Events for the St. Louis County Fair and Air Show.

Edwin Meissner has balanced a life of business and philanthropy. He served as chief executive of the St. Louis Car Company and executive vice president of General Steel. He was also a founding real estate broker with the Hilliker Corporation. Edwin’s civic and philanthropic contributions are too numerous to list. A brief overview would include his 27 years as chairman of the City of Ladue Fire and Police Commission and his years of service as board chair for the Humane Society of Missouri. He is a trustee of the Bernoudy Foundation and has served on the Missouri Arts Council, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Executive Committee and as board member and past chair for the Central Institute for the Deaf.

Anita Mothersbaugh might have had something to do with one of your favorite films. An agent in Hollywood, Anita runs Greenspan Kohan Management. Her clients include composers, music editors, music supervisors and performers, including artists involved in the recent films “Daredevil,” “Suicide Squad” and “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” as well as the popular television shows “Supergirl,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Big Hero 6.” She also works closely with her husband, Emmy award-winning composer Mark Mothersbaugh, who might be best known as the lead singer and keyboard player for the band DEVO. Anita also founded Vanishing Creatures, a line of organic chocolates that raise awareness and money for endangered species, and Real Sound, a movie sound track recording company. 

95th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

With years of tireless dedication, Robin and Curt Engler have greatly enriched the St. Louis community, both culturally and civically. Active with the St. Louis Association of Retarded Citizens, Robin is an integral part of Rainbow Village, a non-profit organization that provides homes for people with developmental disabilities. Curt founded The St. Louis Fire Department Lifesaving Foundation, which provides lifesaving technology and equipment to St. Louis Fire Department first responders. As president of the foundation, Curt has helped raise $2.5 million to help the St. Louis Fire Department save the lives of others and protect their own. Curt also is co-founder and past president of the Samuel Cupples House Foundation and has served on the boards of numerous organizations including Rossman School.

Dick Horner’s life was filled with adventure, travel and both professional and personal accomplishments, with a special highlight being his 72-year marriage to Evelyn Horner. Recognized for his scholarly achievements, outstanding character and leadership potential, he was selected in 1936 as recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford, England, an honor bestowed on only 32 Americans annually. Upon returning to the U.S., Dick secured a job as a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He later worked for Shell Oil, then AT&T (Bell System at that time) in New York and St. Louis, rising to executive level in San Antonio, Texas. In 1955 he was hired as vice president of a major interstate gas pipeline company and returned to St. Louis. From there he retired as president and vice chairman in 1980.

Landon Y. (Lanny) Jones is an award-winning author and magazine editor. His books include William Clark and the Shaping of the West, The Essential Lewis and Clark, and Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation. The last of these coined the phrase “baby boomer” and was nominated for the American Book Award in Nonfiction. A gifted journalist and leader, Jones wrote for Time and People for 12 years before becoming the head editor of Money magazine from 1984 to 1989. Under his direction, the financial monthly won three consecutive National Magazine Awards, including General Excellence, the top honor in the magazine field. Jones was the head editor of People magazine, the most successful magazine in publishing history, from 1989 to 1997. While at People, he directed the editorial planning and launching of three new magazines: Who Weekly, In Style and People en Español. Lanny has served on the board of The Rita Allen Foundation, The Alzheimer’s Association, American Rivers, the Princeton Alumni Corps, and the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Time-Life in 2015.

Dr. Jay Marshall has both a distinguished heritage at Rossman and a lengthy record of service to the St. Louis community. His grandmother, Pauline Marshall, taught at Rossman for 30 years before succeeding Mary Rossman as headmistress for 16 years. Jay, a past Rossman Board member, and his wife, Sue, have continued the tradition Mrs. Marshall began of hosting graduating sixth graders for an outing at the Marshall farm. In 2012, Jay retired after a highly successful 40-year career in internal medicine with a subspecialty in gastroenterology, including over two decades directing the St. Luke’s Hospital Gastroenterology/Endoscopy Lab and a year as St. Luke’s staff president. A longtime clinical instructor at the Washington University Medical Center and St. Luke’s, over the years Jay has also served on the boards of St. Luke’s, Friends of the Zoo, and Friends of the Humane Society.

A passionate and determined young woman, Helen Rapp founded the Arch City Theater Troupe (ACTT) at just 13 years old in response to her brother being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Since then, the non-profit organization benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has raised more than $240,000 to help fight the disease. Throughout her secondary school years, Helen remained the driving force of ACTT, which produces an annual musical review for the St. Louis community using student performers, directors and choreographers. For her work, she was recognized as a “Do the Right Thing” award recipient by KMOV, a national finalist in Family Fun magazine, and a national semi-finalist in Build-a-Bear’s Huggable Heroes competition. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Helen has continued to support ACTT.

A consummate leader in both his business and personal life, Derek Rapp has positively impacted many aspects of the St. Louis community and beyond. Following a fruitful 12-year career at Monsanto, Derek spent 10 years as the chief executive officer of Divergence, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on discovering environmentally safe and effective methods to prevent and control pest infections. In 2004, Derek engaged in support of type 1 diabetes following his son’s diagnosis and, since 2014, has served as President and Chief Executive Officer for JDRF International, the world’s largest private funder of research in type 1 diabetes. In addition, he has served on the boards of John Burroughs School, the Monsanto Fund and the Saint Louis Community Foundation (both of which he served as Chairman), and the Executive Committee of the Missouri Biotechnology Association.

100th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

A systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL), Brian Bauer serves as the autonomy lead NASA’s New Horizons mission. When the APL team lost contact with New Horizons just nine days before the spacecraft’s July 2016 encounter with Pluto, it was Brian’s software that restored communications and ensured the spacecraft stayed on course. In addition, Brian’s work with the operations team was vital in restoring the spacecraft to nominal operations in time to preserve critical Pluto observations. Just over a decade into his career, Brian has distinguished himself through his outstanding achievements, technical expertise, innovative problem-solving, and exceptional teamwork. Brian also is currently working on the Air Force SBSS system and is supporting the Navy’s systems engineering team for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft. He was the mission systems engineer for the NASA BOPPS and BRRISON high-altitude balloon, and he served on the systems engineering teams for the two NASA missions in development to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.

With his generous heart, business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit, David Gast has made a rich and enduring impact on the St. Louis community. While pursuing bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering and a master’s in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, David operated a profitable business providing pioneering technical support to various university departments. Following two years serving in the U.S. Army, David joined the Carl F. Gast Co. and took over as CEO and board chairman a few years later. During his 50-year career, David enriched the company with his visionary leadership, exceptional business skills and an uncommon respect for his competitors. Since retiring in 2005, David and his wife, Carol, divide their time between their family and their non-profit interests. Passionate about supporting excellence throughout the region, David and Carol have been pivotal in advancing the missions of numerous education and cultural institutions.

Throughout his 37-year career in academia, Douglas Wheeler built a legacy of rigorous scholarship, exceptional achievement and devotion to his students. Doug is an emeritus professor of history at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) where he taught from 1965 to 2002. Doug earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University. His early academic focus was on modern African history and later shifted to modern Iberian history. Doug was among the first Fulbright grantees in Portugal, and he was honored by two presidents of Portugal for his scholarship and teaching on Portuguese history and culture. Over the last four decades, Doug’s work has been published widely. The author of 250 articles in dozens of periodicals as well as 52 chapters in 50 books since 1966, his scholarship has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and French. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of nine books; a former editor of the Portuguese Studies Newsletter; and the founding editor of Portuguese Studies Review.

A devoted volunteer and prominent leader in the Durham, New Hampshire community for more than half a century, Katherine Wheeler served in the New Hampshire legislature for fourteen years — eight in the House of Representatives and six in the state Senate. She served on the Health and Human Services Committee her entire legislative career, and in the Senate, she served, consecutively, as Chair of the Insurance Committee and as Chair of the Senate Public Institutions/Health and Human Services Committee. Katie’s passion for public health also led her to co-found the New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA), which aims to help strengthen the state’s public health system. In addition to health issues, Katie has worked throughout her life and political career for social, economic and environmental justice, help for low-income women and children, and support for education. She has been part of numerous organizations promoting these causes and was a founding member of the New Hampshire PBS Board of Governors.

From a young boy sketching airplanes and playing with toy soldiers to a Lt. Colonel and Command Pilot in the Air Force–Air National Guard with over 5,200 military flying hours, Robert Wunderlich’s lifelong desire to serve his country as a pilot has never wavered. Rob retired from the military in March of 2017 with 28 years of commissioned service. Throughout his career, he served in or alongside every branch of the military and represented the profession of arms to millions of spectators as a member of the 1997 and 1998 Navy Blue Angels teams. Since 1999, Rob also has served his family’s business, Wunderlich Fibre Box Manufacturing Company, as Vice President. Over the years, Rob has continued to educate the next generation of military aviators by speaking with groups of children and youth. Among these audiences have been hundreds of students of Rossman School.


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