Gary Patterson ’76, founder of the Patterson Legal Group, opened a branch of his Wichita, Kansas law office in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Charles Bruffy ’81, Grammy-award winning conductor, received the Signature Sinfonian award from the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America. The Signature Sinfonian award is conferred upon Sinfonian members who have achieved a high standard of accomplishment in their field or profession, thereby bringing honor to Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Bruffy’s award was bestowed specifically for “displaying an outstanding commitment and dedication to his field; demonstrating himself as a successful role model and helping others realize their potential; and exhibiting high standards of excellence in representing the Fraternity as an alumnus.”

Bruffy retired as artistic director from the Phoenix Chorale, but continues full-time in his roles as artistic director and conductor of the Kansas City Chorale, chorus director for the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, and director of music at Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, Kansas.

Jim Finley ’83 will retire June 30, 2017 as superintendent of the Blue Springs (Missouri) School District. Finley started his education career as a coach for the football team at Missouri Western and went to Blue Springs as a coach and teacher in 1994.

Melissa Birdsell ’92 was appointed to the board of directors for The Children’s Trust Fund, Missouri’s foundation for child abuse prevention. Birdsell is the executive director of Northwest Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center.

Rick Stepanek ’92 was promoted to warden at the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WRDCC) for the Missouri Department of Corrections in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Greg Gildersleeve ’93 published “The Power Club,” an action-adventure novel. Gildersleeve is senior foundations faculty at Grantham University, where he teaches English and general education courses.

Jon Brady ’94 is the supervisor of security for St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. He is responsible for security at St. Luke’s 109 properties and 12 hospitals in Kansas City, northwest Missouri and Kansas.

Robert Haberle ’94 is semi-retired as a travel nurse and plans to substitute teach.

Geoff Heckman ’97, a school counselor at Platte County High School in Platte City, Missouri, was named a 2018 School Counselor of the Year finalist by the American School Counselor Association. The ASCA honors professionals who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic and social/emotional development and college- and career-readiness needs. He has been a school counselor for 14 years and has been at Platte County High School since 2014.

Stacy Williamson ’02 is at the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies, which serves the 14 Northland high schools in Kansas City, Missouri. She teaches medicine and heatlhcare at Liberty Hospital.

Dustin Holcumbrink ’05 is the director of sales and marketing at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. The convention hotel is the largest in Kansas City and plays host to numerous men’s and women’s basketball teams (including the Griffons!) every spring for the MIAA Tournament. Dustin and wife, Blair ’05, live outside of Kansas City with their three daughters.

Leah Richardson ’04 was hired as principal of Lindbergh Elementary School in St. Joseph, Missouri, for the 2018-19 school year.  

Christy (Fuenfhausen) Todd ’05 and her husband, Clinton, announce the birth of a daughter,

Eleanor Christine Todd

Eleanor Christine, born Nov. 16, 2017. She was welcomed by three brothers, Morgan, Lucas and Austin.

Charles Baxter ’06

Charles G. Baxter ’06 was promoted to director, Missouri State Veterans Cemeteries. He is responsible for five state veterans cemeteries and compliance audits of Veterans Service Offices throughout the state. After he graduated, he began as a veterans service officer and in March 2012, took over duties as the cemetery director at the State Veterans Cemetery in Fort Leonard Wood.


Tara (Stull) ’05 and Aaron ’07/’17 Westlake announce the birth of a son, Declan Cole, born Oct. 27, 2017. Aaron joined Cerner Corporation as a software engineer in July 2017.

Michael O’Neal ’06 and his wife, Kyleigh, announce the birth of a

daughter, Emmerson Grace, born Sept. 18, 2017.

Emmerson Grace O’Neal



Jones Gavin Searles and his brothers Jaxon and Jenson.

Darcie ’06 and Jason ’06 Searles announce the birth of a son, Jones Gavin, born July 7, 2017. He joins two big brothers, Jaxon and Jenson.

Justin McCarthy ’07 was hired as principal of Hosea Elementary School in St. Joseph, Missouri for the 2018-19 school year.

Capt. Brian Turner ’10 currently serves as the administrator, Department of Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The medical center is the only Level 1 Trauma Center within the Department of Defense. Since graduating from Missouri Western, Capt. Turner earned an MBA from Oklahoma State University and a Masters in Healthcare Administration from Weber State University, graduating summa cum laude. He is the recipient of numerous military awards including the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards) and the Army Commendation Medal (two awards). Additionally, he is Board Certified in Healthcare Administration as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Kathryn Karjala-Curtis ’11 is the county attorney for Faribault County, Minnesota.

Ethan Kelly ’14 and Kaitlyn Fisette ’14 were married Oct. 7, 2017. The couple met at Missouri Western through their Greek life organizations (Phi Delta Theta and Alpha Sigma Alpha).



In Memoriam 

We remember those who have passed away. If you want to include someone in this listing, please call (816) 271-5651, mail the information to Diane Holtz, Missouri Western State University, 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507, or email holtz@missouriwestern.edu.
Beatrice R. Anderson ’76, St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 15, 2018.
Donna L. Bromley ’84, Cameron, Missouri, Jan. 22, 2018.
Billy J. Collier ’89, Cameron, Missouri, Dec. 2, 2017.
James W. Doyle ’40, St. Joseph, Missouri, Nov. 12, 2017.
Brooke A. English ’11, Liberty, Missouri, Nov. 25, 2017.
Marjorie Fletcher ’74, Union Star, Missouri, Dec. 10, 2017.
Gaylord Garrison ’65, St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 15, 2017.
Ronald P. Hardy ’90, St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 11, 2018.
Clifford V. Hill ’75, St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 12, 2018.
Laura E. Hutton ’15, North Kansas City, Missouri, Jan. 23, 2018.
Donna S. Jarecki ’90, Turney, Missouri, Oct. 27, 2017.
Lesley (Dunham) Johnson ’84, St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 29, 2018.
Jon S. Kepler, Dekalb, Missouri, Nov. 13, 2017. He retired from Missouri Western as a history professor in 2003.
Michael D. Kepner ’76, St. Joseph, Missouri, Nov. 29, 2017.
Kevin M. Kobett ’81, Savannah, Missouri, Nov. 5, 2017.
Franz A. Meier Jr. ’58, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Feb. 15, 2018.
William “Joe” Mockbee ’73, Mesa, Arizona, Oct. 8, 2017.
Gregory L. Monach, St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 17, 2018. Monach was the custodial supervisor at Missouri Western for nine-and-a-half years and retired in 2015.
John A. Mullinax ’50, Kansas City, Missouri, Jan. 19, 2018.
Jeanne L. Nicholson ’80, St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 2, 2018.
Dr. Philip Nitse, Georgetown, Texas, Nov. 20, 2017. Dr. Nitse was the first permanent dean of the Craig School of Business from 2010-12. Additionally, he served as the dean of Professional Studies, beginning in 2011.
George Noble, Savannah, Missouri, Nov. 4, 2017. Noble retired from Missouri Western’s physical plant in 2010.
Patricia J. North ’79, Ocala, Florida, Jan. 24, 2018.
Timothy G. Riley ’78, St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 31, 2018.
Jacqueline (Jackson) Ritter ’88, St. Joseph, Missouri, Dec. 18, 2017.
Joyce A. Schutte, St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 9, 2018. Schutte was a reference librarian for Missouri Western 1987-99.
Robert Dale Simpson, Savannah, Missouri, Dec. 17, 2017. He retired from Missouri Western as building supervisor after 23 years.
Vincent L. Singleton ’73, Lewiston, Maine, Jan. 4, 2018.
Teresa M. Tannheimer ’87, St. Joseph, Missouri, Nov. 9, 2017.
Phillip S. Trotter ’84, St. Joseph, Missouri, Jan. 18, 2018.
Arthur W. Van Meter ’75, St. Joseph, Missouri, Nov. 4, 2017.
Beth Wheeler ’77, Jameson, Missouri, Nov. 13, 2017.
Charles L. White ’73, St. Joseph, Missouri, Dec. 9, 2017.