Distinguished Alumni Awards
Founded in 1951, the Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize individuals who have achieved professional and personal successes, and demonstrated exemplary service to their community.
Distinguished Alumni Award Distinctions
- Lifetime Achievement: Alumnus whose life and accomplishments have earned the respect of their industry, profession or community.
- University Engagement: Alumnus with extraordinary achievement in their personal and professional endeavors, with special attention to their exceptional service to the University.
- Community Service: Alumnus who has served his or her community in an exemplary way, sustaining a record of leadership and dedicated service.
- Career Achievement: Alumnus with exceptional achievements in their professional endeavors, reflecting honor on the University and its alumni.
- Young Alumni: Alumnus who graduated within the last 15 years and whose accomplishments set a standard for life-long excellence.
- Appreciation Award for Faculty/Staff: Faculty and staff member honored for achievement in their professional or academic field and loyalty to the University.
- Special Merit: Alumnus who have provided distinctive contributions to support the University, Alumni, and the Drury Family in the preceding year.
- Special Category for 2020-2021 - Covid-19 Response Recognition: Alumnus who have served their community in an exemplary way during the pandemic. Multiple alumni will be recognized at the awards ceremony in Fall 2021 after committee review of nominations.
Nominations are accepted throughout the year. On December 1, the nomination cycle closes to allow selection of honorees for the year.
*2020-21 deadline extended to December 31, 2020.
Nominations received after December 31 will be saved for the next year of selection. Final selections will be made in February 2021. Award recipients and nominators will be notified, in most cases, by March 31.
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
Drury's 2019 Distinguished Alumni award winners were recognized on Friday, February 28, from 6 - 9 p.m. in the FSC Ballroom.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement
Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Biology
Nate Quinn knows the power of a hard day’s work.
“I always tried to live my life with the attitude that if you do your best, you will do well in life,” says the longtime coach and teacher. “You have to get up every day and work at it, not everything comes easy. But your best will always be enough.” Recruited by Drury University to play basketball, Quinn was a pivotal member of the 1979 NAIA National Championship team that went 33-2.
“At that time, we were caught up in the moment, in the thrill of it all,” he recalls. “You don’t realize until years later how much that meant to people, to the Drury community.”
For his efforts, over the years Quinn was inducted in to the Drury, Springfield and Missouri sports halls of fame. The win catapulted him to his first post-grad job, assistant men’s basketball coach at, then, Southwest Missouri State University. But the classroom was calling and Quinn spent the next 29 years as a teacher, principal and administrator for Springfield Public Schools. He went on to get a master’s, educational specialist and doctor of education degrees, retiring from the district in 2013.
“At the time, I was one of the first coaches in a major sport who taught something other than PE or history,” he says of his start at Hillcrest High School, where he was assistant coach for a year before taking over as head coach for more than a decade. “I double-majored in school because I knew I needed that PE component, but I loved biology.”
Not one to sit still, Quinn’s influence can be seen across the community in organizations he’s served as a board member, such as United Way of the Ozarks, Community Partnership of the Ozarks and the North Springfield Betterment Association.
Retiring from K-12 education, Quinn is currently a professor in the Department of Counseling Leadership and Special Education at Missouri State University, where he continues to guide students toward their goals.
“Dr. Nathaniel Quinn not only inspired students to achieve and exceed their potential, but has broken down racial barriers and stood up for equality and empowerment of all,” reads his nomination for this award. “Nate has been a guiding force for the youth and all of Springfield.”
Bachelor of Business Administration
Drury University is Beth Pile’s happy place. A member of the Drury Board of Trustees since 2011, the Arlington, Virginia, resident has the pleasure of frequent trips back to her alma mater where she has the opportunity to connect with administration, faculty and students.
“I’m always learning something from them,” she says, noting she’s a bit jealous of the new Fusion curriculum. “I love meeting the students at senior dinner and graduation is always a treat.”
Pile is such a fan her co-workers can always tell she has just returned from a campus visit because she comes back with an extra bounce in her step and big grin on her face.
Pile carries that connection with her when she leaves the Show-Me State, too, acting as a mentor and adviser for interning Drury students, grad students and visiting faculty in the District of Columbia area.
“I often have a group of students over to my house for pizza,” she says. “We talk about school and their careers, but my real passion is the arts. DC has so much to offer, I want to help expose them to its beauty.”
Pile and her Drury group often attend ballet, symphony and other performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She’s taken students to New York to take in a Broadway show.
“We went to see ‘Carousel,’ which featured Drury grad Erica Spyres,” she says, noting the group got a true backstage experience. “I’d like these students to have a true appreciation. There is a saying, ‘What is earth without art? It’s just eh.’”
By day, Pile is a founding member of Promontory Interfinancial Network, serving as its chief risk officer responsible for, among other things, regulatory compliance companywide. Prior, she served nearly two decades with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, leaving there as deputy to the chief of staff.
“My four years at Drury were some of the best times of my life,” she says. “Some people have trouble adjusting from high school to college, I didn’t want to leave college and enter the real world.”
Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
While an undergraduate at Drury University, Rex Bright worked full-time as a cameraman and director at KY3 television, the local NBC affiliate. He was also active in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and student government. He was junior class president and the student body president.
After graduating from Drury and stint with the U.S. Army, Bright wanted to combine his interest in art and marketing and he joined the marketing department at Hallmark Cards, in Kansas City, where he met his wife, Marilyn.
Bright has been a CEO in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology health care sectors for over 30 years.
He began his health care career at Johnson & Johnson, where he spent 19 years. At J&J, he rose through the ranks of sales, marketing and became head of J&J’s dermatology business. In 1983, GlaxoSmithKline recruited him to start a new dermatology business unit, in California, at their subsidiary Allergan, where he spent seven years as president.
After Allergan, Rex spent the next 30 years as a start-up and turnaround CEO with several health care companies. He officially retired in 2012 but continues to serve on three corporate and two nonprofit boards.
Bright continues to be an active Drury alum. He has made presentations at Board of Trustee meetings and speaks to Breech School Business classes. In 2018, he was inducted into the Breech School Hall of Fame. He sponsors a Breech School student scholarship. Last year, with the help of the Alumni Development team, he organized a Lambda Chi Reunion at Drury with over one hundred attendees.
Today, Bright and his wife Marilyn live near San Diego, California. They also have a home in St. Louis, where their two daughters, Jill and Toni (both Drury graduates) and four grandchildren reside.
Rex’s favorite things are travel, grandkids, Broadway shows, caricaturing, sculpture, keeping Marilyn happy and laughing.
“Some are my best memories at Drury are my friendships with Lambda Chi fraternity brothers,” he says, “Many of those relationships continue today. I am also a huge believer in a liberal arts education. No place does it better than Drury. That’s why I love it here.”
Law Enforcement Academy
Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Psychology
Master in Business Administration
Sheriff Roye Cole has a heart for children. It’s evident is all aspects of his life. By day, he heads up the Webster County Sheriff's office and by night he’s father to three kids, coach to multiple sports teams and leader to youth groups at his church.
As if that weren’t enough to fill his schedule, Cole also served as president of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association board, is a charter member of the Lions Club and helped campaign for a quarter-cent sales tax to construct a $18.6 million Webster County Justice Center.
“I was just raised that way,” he says of his schedule. “I work hard. The harder you work, the more work you get done.”
Cole’s path to his 2008 run for sheriff is both wandering and direct. His law enforcement career began at the age
of 16 when he completed the Rogersville Cadet Program. Following in the family footsteps, Cole knew he wanted
to attend Drury University, but he also knew funds were tight. So, he took two years of classes at Ozarks Technical Community College first, before landing a job as a security officer with Drury.
“I knew that if I worked there, I could take classes for free,” he says. “It was my job to patrol campus each night and check to make sure every single door was locked. I came to love that campus on those walks.”
Cole moved to day shift work and was able to start night classes through the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. His degree led to a job with the 30th Circuit Court of the State of Missouri as a deputy juvenile officer. There he worked child abuse, neglect and delinquency cases in Webster County. After his election, Cole knew if he wanted to be a leader in the community he needed to understand the financial side, so he pursued his MBA.
“You would not believe how much Drury has affected my life for the better,” he says. “I look at the Drury mission statement and I want to embody that. I take care of people. It’s what I was trained to do.”
Bachelor of Arts in Biology
Master in Business Administration
Dr. Laura Waters knew from an early age she wanted to be a pediatrician. It was Drury University that helped her find her place.
“I wanted to go to a big pre-med program at Duke or Mizzou,” says the Springfield native. “I went to a college fair and everyone just had a booth and a brochure. Drury had multiple people there, including the pre-med adviser.
“I knew right then Drury was the fit for me. I didn’t want to be a number. That choice has made all the difference for me – the Drury difference, you might say.”
Through Drury’s early acceptance program, Waters completed her training at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and set out to put her skills to use, not just in the Queen City at Mercy HealthTracks clinic, but also worldwide. Since 2006, Waters has traveled to six countries in a total of nine trips.
“God called me a long time ago,” she says. “I knew I was supposed to use my skills and gifts throughout the world.”
Waters has traveled to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kenya, Ukraine, Romania and, most recently, Ecuador. Each trip she says opens her eyes to something new and different.
“It’s kind of refreshing to help treat infectious disease we don’t see here. There’s also not as much charting and paperwork,” Waters says with a chuckle. “Being able to experience other cultures has really been a true gift for me.”
When not traveling the world, Waters spent much of her time at Drury over the last several years, first as part of the Alumni Council and then as a student, again.
“Being on the council, it was nice to see a different side of Drury,” she says. “The university works so hard to build the alumni network and keep everyone connected. I really enjoyed being part of that spirit.”
Waters graduated from Drury a second time with her MBA in 2019, a move she said also benefits her patients.
“There is not a single place in my life that has had more impact on me than Drury,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.”
Director of bowling and head women's bowling coach
Bowling is right up Larry W. Hughes' alley. The Drury University director of bowling has made his home on the lanes for more than 40 years.
Playing in sanctioned leagues in Springfield and Wichita, Kansas, along with various tournaments nationwide, he also bowled for Missouri State University his senior year and helped the Bears to a sixth-place finish nationally.
In addition to competing himself, the Springfield Bowling Hall of Famer has another milestone under his belt – two, in fact. He helped found both the Nixa High School and Drury bowling programs. However, his connection to the Drury community didn’t start on the lanes, but rather the court.
“I have run the score clock for men’s basketball games for about 15 years and they knew I was an avid bowler,” says Hughes, who has also worked in asset management at U.S. Bank for the past 27 years.
The men’s inaugural season launched in 2015, competing as a non-NCAA program, but it was with the Lady Panthers that Hughes found his niche. He transitioned the women’s team into the NCAA, and the ladies completed their first conference season in 2017, finishing third.
“The program was growing and word was starting to get out,” he says of the young team. “When you start a new program, you’re just working to fill that roster, deepen that roster with talent.”
One such talent was Caroline Conrad. The Drury University sophomore tragically lost her life to a car accident in June 2019.
“It was summertime so the team wasn’t together when we heard. It hit them hard, really hard,” Hughes says, adding the women came together for a service in Conrad’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. “Caroline was such an outgoing, energetic person. She was the glue of our team. As coach,
I knew it was my job to bring them back together that fall without our glue.”
Hughes said the return to campus started the grieving process over again, but the team pulled together and have found ways to remember their friend.
“Sometimes you don’t realize how special someone is until they’re gone,” he says of Caroline. “We knew Caroline was special, which just made it that much harder.”
Past Distinguished Award Winners
- 2015 Ralph K. Manley '49
- 2016 Dr. Sue Carter Porges ‘66
- 2017 Warren B. Davis '59
- 2018 James & Marilyn Bogle Buchholz ‘57/’62
- 1952 Dean James F. McKinley '25
- 1957 Helen Wiemer James '29
- 1957 Robert Cummings '32
- 1957 James Hartford Robertson '36
- 1958 Bert Goss '28
- 1958 Rev. Thomas Shipp '41
- 1959 Dr. George Melcher '26
- 1960 Margaret Johnson Bosworth '45
- 1960 Rev. Don Newby '47
- 1964 R. William Greer '39
- 1964 Connie Hjelmeng Johnson '64
- 1965 David Brand Woodruff '38
- 1966 Thornton Smith '36
- 1967 James Trig Brown '46
- 1968 William Collinson '33
- 1968 Edgar E. Martin '33
- 1968 David Weiser '42
- 1969 William C. Hayes '41
- 1971 Henry C. Duncan '43
- 1971 Marvin VanGilder '48
- 1972 Clarence R. Haflinger '38
- 1972 Robert Heimburger '39
- 1972 John B. Haseltine '60
- 1973 Elizabeth Grinstead Mallory '31
- 1974 Durward Hall '30
- 1974 John K. Hulston '36
- 1976 James Findlay '52
- 1978 Frank Ross '25
- 1978 Maurice Wilson '28
- 1978 F. Marian Bishop '49
- 1979 Flavius Freeman '32
- 1981 Dr. Oscar Fryer '25
- 1983 Allen V. Eikner '49
- 1984 Henry S. Schneider '49
- 1985 Ray Aton '37
- 1986 Hilbert Keisker '26
- 1987 Wallace Springer '47
- 1989 Helen Jones Stoneman '28
- 1989 Harold Stoneman '33
- 1990 Janet Steinmetz Trotter '53
- 1990 Marthe Drummond Close '57
- 1990 Barbara Cook Hall '57
- 1991 Thomas S. Gambill '49
- 1993 Sally Bodlovich Tharp '90
- 1995 Joel N. Gamel '40
- 1997 Patsy Witherspoon Poulos '47
- 1998 Don Akers '48
- 1999 William E. Pettit '42
- 2000 John R. Johnson '55
- 2001 Lyle D. Reed '70
- 2001 John D. Beuerlein '76
- 2008 Lewis T. "Johnny" Johnson
- 2015 John William (Bill) Ricketts, MBA ’71
- 2016 Steven D. Edwards ‘88
- 2017 Gail "Gene" Summers '63
- 2018 Dr. Thomas Lynch '65
- 1959 J. Charles Grosskreutz '43
- 1961 Leonard F. Bush '31
- 1961 Mary Jane Pool '46
- 1969 Virgil E. Fieker '47
- 1969 Walter H. Hoffman '39
- 1976 Charles H. Brown '41
- 1978 Helen Koch
- 1980 Donald Ray Hodge '61
- 1981 John C. Herweg '43
- 1982 Leeson C. Meador
- 1985 Donald C. Dailey
- 1986 Mitsuo Aoki '40
- 1987 Rev. Robert H. Challinor '47
- 1988 Ben Parnell '39
- 1989 Betty Jane Rathbone Turner '45
- 1990 H. Wes Pratt '73
- 1991 Ralph Turner '31
- 1991 Mary Rose Sweeney '41
- 1992 Vernon K. Ausherman '42
- 1992 Eleanor Barstow White '64, '70 MEd
- 1993 Charles Sheppard '41
- 1994 Dale Creach '63
- 1994 Ormal Creach
- 1996 Hope E. Harris '43, '57 MEd
- 1996 Rosemary Sullivan Bane '46
- 1997 Dr. James W. Clawson
- 1998 Carolyn Lambert Teter '73
- 1999 Dorothy Gay Warren '47
- 1999 W. Warren Kallenbach '49
- 2001 Joan E. Gilmore '51
- 2002 Bill H. Cantrell '42
- 2003 Jean Short Coday '52
- 2003 David Clohessy '78
- 2004 John H. Simmons '60
- 2004 Drury Women's Auxiliary
- 2005 Mona Tourlentes '50
- 2006 Marcia Williams Johnson '70
- 2006 Darline Dill
- 2008 Lewis T. "Johnny" Johnson
- 2009 Kirk Presley '80
- 2010 Patsy Shean Summers '64
- 2011 Rev. David L. Scott '79
- 2012 Carolyn B. Cotta '60
- 2013 Mark L. Walker '79
- 2014 Eunice Schmiechen Wallar '63
- 2015 Mary Faith Buresh Holzer ’68
- 2016 Janet Steinmetz Trotter ‘53
- 2017 Raymond E. Hackett '80
- 2018 Thomas W. Stevens '59
- 1944 Edward L. Clark '29
- 1951 Jean Laubenheim Shephard '12
- 1951 Kenneth B. Elliott '16
- 1951 William A. Beiderlinden '17
- 1951 Lester E. Cox '18
- 1952 Marion Hines '13
- 1952 Erwin E. Nelson '14
- 1952 James E. Ruffin '16
- 1953 Faye Steinmetz '10
- 1953 Harry A. Shuder '11
- 1953 Arthur "Duff" Allen '13
- 1953 Edward Mason '14
- 1954 John T. White '16
- 1954 Louise Trimble Foster '18
- 1954 Paul W. Barrett '24
- 1954 Frank McDowell '32
- 1955 Dora Beggs Shields '07
- 1955 Joseph Williams '11
- 1955 Otto C. Egdorf '20
- 1955 Paul Leonard '25
- 1956 Warren White '04
- 1956 William Knight '07
- 1956 Otto Smith '07
- 1956 Reba Staggs '34
- 1957 Walter Brunkhorst '17
- 1957 David Robertson '32
- 1958 David McKnight '28
- 1959 Samuel Dawson '21
- 1959 Rollin Gillespie '30
- 1960 Walter Thompson '28
- 1960 Bob Barker '47
- 1961 Morris E. Garnsey '28
- 1961 Gordon A. Riley '33
- 1962 Bruce Joseph Brown '15
- 1962 Guy Raynor Hill '27
- 1962 Charles F. Robinson'36
- 1962 Jeanne Meador Schwarz '37
- 1963 Allan S. Humphreys '10
- 1963 Lois Hall '14
- 1963 Dorsey D. Jones '20
- 1964 C. Robert Mitchell '30
- 1965 Virgil W. Adkisson '25
- 1966 Helen Malin Reuber '29
- 1967 Joseph King Vivion '16
- 1967 William D. Hackett '36
- 1968 Archie Russell '39
- 1968 Lois Jennings DeNauw '50
- 1970 Eugene Everett '48
- 1973 Adelaide Haseltine Jones '24
- 1973 Ralph K. Manley '49, '69 MBA
- 1973 William C. Virdon '53
- 1973 Mary Ruth Cuddy '59, '62 MEd
- 1974 Minnie Mae Prescott '28
- 1975 William Fred Schaeffer '33
- 1975 Betty Cole Dukert '49
- 1975 Rabbi Walter Jacob '50
- 1975 Ralph L. Andreano '52
- 1976 R. R. Watson '25
- 1976 Billie Crawford Davis '61
- 1977 J. York Johnson '25
- 1977 James Ewing '38
- 1977 Frank W. Clippinger '48
- 1978 F. Marion Bishop '49
- 1978 Delmar E. Caywood '55
- 1978 James R. Buchholz '57
- 1979 John Geyer '29
- 1979 Robert McKinnell '49
- 1979 Sandra Kennon Harrison '61
- 1980 Leonard C. Pronko '47
- 1980 Carol Junge Loomis '51
- 1980 Jeanine Smith '63
- 1980 Jerry Von Rohr '66
- 1981 John P. Edwards '47
- 1981 David Harrison '59
- 1981 Susanne Logan O'Neal '53
- 1982 Dorothy Van Dyke Leake '14
- 1982 John T. Carlson '51
- 1983 C. Truman Steele '34
- 1984 David E. Sweet '55
- 1986 Gary L. Matthews '60
- 1987 Sterling Newberry '37
- 1988 Jerry Poe '53
- 1988 Willard Graves, Jr. '62
- 1989 John W. Hammon '64
- 1990 Emily Haymes '61
- 1991 Richard C. Dunn '58
- 1991 Margaret H. Cooper '66
- 1992 Robert H. Hurlbutt '47
- 1992 Kenneth L. Fitts '67
- 1993 Donald C. Flesche '56
- 1993 J. Regan Thomas '68
- 1994 Charles E. Fritz '42
- 1994 Georgia Clark Sadler '62
- 1994 J. William Langston '65
- 1994 Fred S. Gorelick '70
- 1995 Andrew Jackson Wann '40
- 1996 Nancy Hasler Watsling '46
- 1996 Ellen Gray Massey '60 MEd
- 1997 Rev. Elton O. Smith '50
- 1997 Larry Wallis '66
- 1998 Thomas R. Whitlock '76
- 1999 Tom Kellogg '58
- 1999 Richard French '59
- 2000 James R. Silkenat '69
- 2001 John D. Burczak '76
- 2002 Michael Mallory '77
- 2003 Revs. John and Paula Bowman Sandford '51/'53
- 2003 Russell Robinson '74
- 2004 Dr. William R. Schiller '58
- 2005 Paul Stillwell '66
- 2007 Jerry L Redfern '57
- 2007 Dr. Carol Gevecker Graves '62
- 2008 Dorothy "Dottie" Dillard '45
- 2008 Lisa Farmer '82
- 2009 Judge H. Dean Whipple '61
- 2010 Walter George '79
- 2011 Dr. D. Greg Farwell '90
- 2012 Dr. Ilene K. Gipson '66
- 2013 Curtis L. Dinan '89
- 2014 Kim Harrison Hamm '86
- 2015 Dr. Heidi Prather Bradley ’87
- 2016 Dr. Calla Wiemer ‘77
- 2017 S. David Gohn '64
- 2018 Dwayne Holden '64
- 1976 Marcia Mobley Mitchell '67
- 1977 Frances Presley Rice '73
- 1978 Mark Anschutz '66
- 1979 Glenn Richardson '65
- 1985 Sue Carter Porges '66
- 1985 Brian Gendece '79
- 1987 James Wesley Mitchell '73, '81 MEd
- 1990 Susan West '75
- 1991 Wayne Schrier '75
- 1992 Susan Montgomery McCammon '73
- 1993 Michele Reeves Smith '88
- 1995 Charlotte C. Hardin '85
- 1997 James R. Dunlap '84
- 2001 Brian R. Reynolds '83
- 2004 Karen L. Williams '85
- 2005 Marci Bowling '95
- 2008 Michael Wehrenberg '99
- 2011 Amber B. Campbell '98
- 2012 Christopher B. Kennedy '99
- 2013 Sarah Lester Wilkerson '01
- 2014 Nathan Pettyjohn '01
- 2015 Cliff Johnson ’03
- 2016 Dr. Adam McClellan ’05
- 2017 Lauren Holtkamp '03
- 2018 Meg Myers Morgan ‘05
- 1986 Dr. Lora Bond, Biology
- 1987 Dr. W. Curtis Strube, Business Administration
- 1988 Dr. Willard Graves '33, Mathematics
- 1989 Dr. Jorge Padron, Chemistry
- 1990 Dr. Charles Mercer, Accounting
- 1991 Dr. Victor Agruso, Psychology
- 1992 Dr. Ruth Bamberger, Political Science
- 1993 Dr. Rabin Roy, Chemistry
- 1994 Dr. Richard D. Killough, Philosophy and Religion
- 1995 Dr. Richard Mears, Language and Literature
- 1996 Dr. Tijuana Julian '81, Music
- 1997 Dr. Harriett Mears, Art
- 1998 Dr. William D. Rohlf, Jr., Economics
- 1999 Dr. Wayne Holmes, Literature
- 2000 Dr. Joseph P. McAdoo, Communication
- 2001 Dr. Peter D. Browning, Philosophy and Religion
- 2002 Dr. Harvey Asher, History
- 2003 Eltjen Flikkema, Ph.D., German, Literature, Director of Honors Program
- 2004 Joyce A. Roberts, Special Instructor of Dance and Choreography/Dramatics Productions
- 2005 Dr. Thomas E. Russo, Art
- 2006 Dr. Barbara Wing, Biology
- 2007 Dr. Donald Weber, Physics
- 2008 Dr. Penny Clayton '83 MBA, Accounting
- 2009 Dudley Murphy, Design Arts
- 2010 Alkis Tsolakis, Architecture
- 2011 Dr. Lisa M. Esposito, Philosophy and Religion
- 2015 Daniel Cashel, Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement
- 2016 Traci Sooter, Architecture
- 2017 Judi Grier Thompson '61, University Advancement
- 2018 Dr. Bruce Callen
- 1992 Mercedes Freeman Smith '89
- 2000 William Dannevik '66
- 2001 Ronald Neville '69
- 2002 Betty Herndon Meyer '40