Anationally renowned scientist, a superior court judge and a professional WNBA player are among past graduates of Ladue Horton Watkins High School. These accomplished professionals and others will be honored at the school’s 60th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Recognition Ceremony on Sept. 21.
Some of the honorees recently reflected on how the school contributed to their success— from dedicated teachers to a wide range of academic and athletic opportunities.
Rick Recht, (’88), a Jewish rock musician who resides in Chesterfield, recalls how his teachers—particularly in the English department— gave him the confidence to dream big and achieve his aspirations through passionate creativity and hard work. “I learned that being an authentic, genuine and caring person would always be the very best version of myself, most valued by my friends, teachers and colleagues.”
Professional WNBA basketball player Charmin Smith, (’93), loved working with classmates to integrate the school’s Commons area into a place where diverse groups of students would interact with each other, rather than remaining isolated within their own ethnic and cultural groups. “It was about stepping outside of your own comfort zone to get to know different people,” she notes. “I’ve continued to do this throughout my life.”
Dr. Eric Green, (’77), director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, says he is profoundly grateful for his high school experiences, which included competitive debate and public speaking, multiple musical groups, Model United Nations and Model Senate. “These, coupled with outstanding in-class teaching—especially from individuals like Bill Heyde— provided me a robust foundation of life skills that have served me well throughout my professional career.”
Elizabeth Fritschle, (’80), U.S. foreign service officer serving at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, fondly remembers having some of the same great math and science teachers as her father.
Daniel Estrin, (’02), Middle East correspondent for NPR, Associated Press and other outlets, recalls valuable lessons through multiple teachers, from poetry writing with Mrs. Stelmach to acting in Mr. Knoedelseder’s plays and musicals.
Larry Barker (’69), investigative reporter for KROE-TV in Albuquerque, N. M., credits journalism teacher Mrs. Abbott for his lifelong interest in the field, which started with his school newspaper feature, Barking Up the Wrong Tree with Larry Barker.
Judge Todd Edelman, (’86), Superior Court of District of Columbia, says he will never live down driving his 1976 Cutlass Supreme through the fence of a house across the street from the school. Thirty years later, he continues to blame a darting squirrel for the awkward accident.
The program, which begins at 8:15 p.m. at the school’s performing arts center, will include an awards ceremony, performances by the high school choir and some of the honorees, as well as a special tribute to Ladue alumni who lost their lives while serving in the U. S. military. A dessert reception will follow the presentation.
Other honored alumni will be: Dr. Robert Allen, (’56), professor of medicine and co-director of the division of hematology at University of Colorado; Doug Brown, (’60), retired president of Enterprise Leasing Fleet Services; Michael Collins, (’02), Lieutenant Junior Grade and Operational Element Team Leader for the U.S. Military; Alice Conway, (’72), attorney at Monsanto; Irv Gornstein, (’69), executive director of the Supreme Court Institute and professor of law for Georgetown University Law School; Dr. Rebecca Hahn, (’76), physician and echocardiography expert; Bob Jacquemin, (’60), retired entertainment industry executive for Paramount Television, Buena Vista Television (Disney) and DreamWorks SKG; Bruce Karsh, (’74), president and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management; Bob Kolbrener, (’60), photographer; Jim McKelvey, (’83), entrepreneur, computer science engineer, master glass blower, and co-founder of Square; Robert Nissenbaum, (’69), inventor of Rice Dream and retired co-founder of Imagine Foods; Judy Rodgers, (’74), chef and co-owner of Zuni Café in San Francisco; Ellen Sherberg, (’66), publisher of St. Louis Business Journal; Jill Turec, (’64), co-founder of Friends of Kids With Cancer; and Justin Willman, (’98), professional magician, performer and Food Network TV personality.