Golden Graduates Return to Ranken for Commencement Ceremonies


At its recent commencement exercises, Ranken Technical College presented nearly 500 diplomas to men and women who completed the rigorous requirements demanded by the school. And, as is its tradition at this May graduation, the school also paid tribute to special “Golden Graduates.”

There were 18 of these special honorees who graduated more than 50 years ago, including a 1958 graduate who came all the way from Redmond, Washington. They wore gold caps and gowns at the ceremony and led the commencement procession. They reminisced with one another, and also enjoyed conversing with Dennis Alvord, the EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs who was the commencement speaker, as well as various other Ranken staff, faculty, trustees, students and graduates. They shared a variety of fascinating personal and professional stories, and a mutual appreciation for the education they had received from Ranken.

George Kroder and Donald Meier were 1968 grads with degrees in industrial electricity and electronics, Kroder later earned a bachelor degree in business from SIUE and a master degree in safety from Central Missouri State. “I credit my Ranken education with much of what I accomplished in my life,” he says. “While at Ranken, I took a first-aid class with Mr. Davis, and that class inspired me to become an EMT. Later in my career I ran the paramedic program at St. Louis Community College and eventually became the risk manager for the college. I also had the opportunity to work with the White House and the Secret Service to arrange for medical care – something they do as a precautionary measure when they visit a city for a president.”

“If it had not been for Ranken, I would not have accomplished any of the things I did. I learned discipline there,” said Donald Meier. After graduating from Ranken, he worked for Western Electric and became a Chief Master Sargent in the U.S. Army. He then worked for Emerson, followed by a position as an IT Branch Chief for the U.S. Army, eventually retiring with a top-level Federal position.

Charles Guess was a 1964 graduate, also with a degree in industrial and electricity and electronics technology. He credits Ranken with an introduction to a company that paved the way for his successful career. “Ranken helped me get an internship with IBM cleaning typewriters. I would work for them for three months then be back at Ranken for class for three months. IBM suggested that I take an assessment for data processing and I did well on it and was hired. I spent my entire career there.”

Golden Grad Roger Munie graduated in 1965 from the plumbing technology program. His legacy is shared daily with Ranken students as he is the father of the College’s current plumbing department chair, David Munie, a 1990 Ranken graduate.

Several Ranken Golden Graduates, like Lawrence Hild of Arlington, Texas, Class of 1969, sent regrets that they were unable to attend the festivities, but also shared their appreciation and high praises for Ranken’s contributions to their lives and post-graduation achievements.

Hild came to Ranken for its automotive training program, after struggling with an earlier attempt at higher education. He was #1 in his class, sharing that honor with another classmate. When he was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, he scored 148 out of 150 on the mechanical aptitude test, which qualified him to go to school to learn how to repair and maintain vital Chinook CH-47 helicopters. That led him to a fascinating series of jobs in the military, as a government contractor and then in the private sector maintaining aircraft for industry leaders – even royal families abroad. “Ranken was my first school that taught me the value of doing work the right way and to have a good attitude toward work,” he wrote.

As recent graduates celebrate their new beginning, Ranken President Stan Shoun says the school is pleased to honor past graduates who have contributed so much to industries and communities locally, nationally and internationally. “They have distinguished themselves at both professional and personal levels, and we are proud that they are part of our heritage.”

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