By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
The 23rd annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni featured another fund-raising record — this year’s event raised $560,000 for the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF).
And once again a full house of some 2,000 people filled the Galt House Hotel ballroom for the March 20 banquet, which featured award presentations to six Catholic School alumni, a local Catholic school teacher and a Community Service Award recipient.
But this year’s Salute also featured several calls for commitment and a look to the future. J. Bradford Rives, chairman of the CEF, praised the local community for raising a record amount, which the foundation will use as financial aid to Catholic school families.
He also called them to be aware that the $1.3 million the CEF awarded in tuition assistance last year isn’t close to meeting the need of area families who want to send their children to Catholic schools.
“That $1.3 million in tuition assistance met only 30 percent of the demonstrated need,” he said. “It is imperative that we close that gap and make Catholic education accessible to all families.”
Accessibility was a word mentioned frequently during the night’s events.
Former CEF chairman Richard A. Lechleiter, executive vice-president and chief financial officer for Kindred Healthcare, Inc., was called upon to introduce his brother, Dr. John C. Lechleiter, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company.
Before the introduction, however, Richard Lechleiter challenged those before him to raise the funds necessary to keep Catholic education accessible and affordable for area families.
“Within the next five years we can make a huge difference in our Catholic schools,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be exciting to see gradual growth in enrollment numbers across our entire system? Wouldn’t it be great to raise $1 million from this event alone?”
In his remarks John Lechleiter noted that his parents “saw to it that I and my eight siblings received a Catholic education.”
“Eight of us went to Xavier or Dayton; one brother went to the University of Cincinnati and we have long since forgiven him,” he said to chuckles throughout the audience.
John Lechleiter recounted the effect his early Catholic education had upon him — an effect that led him to obtain a master’s and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Harvard University.
“I’ve often told everyone in my family that I learned everything I ever learned in life in the seventh grade,” he said. “And I learned it in Sister Joan Vincent’s class. She was smart and tough and inspiring. She’s now known as (Dominican) Sister Claire McGowan and I’m proud to say that she’s still leading, now as executive director of New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future in Springfield, Ky.”
The head of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms told the crowd that Catholic education “made a profound difference for me and countless others.”
“In a society that is searching for meaning,” he said, “Catholic education teaches values as it educates.” And there is never a separation between knowledge and faith in Catholic schools, he added.
“All of us must step forward to make sure that Catholic schools are there for the next generation,” he concluded.
C. Edward Glasscock, chairman emeritus of the Frost Brown Todd law firm, was presented with this year’s Community Service Award. He thanked his firm for allowing him to participate in the foundation. He also expressed gratitude for the opportunity he had to attend St. Xavier High School, and for his 18 years on the board of directors of Bellarmine University.
The Father Joseph McGee Award for excellence in teaching was presented to Frederick J. Whittaker of St. Francis of Assisi School. (A story about Whittaker appeared in the Feb. 21 edition of The Record.)
Alumni honorees were Alice O. Bridges of KentuckyOne Health, where she serves as Vice President of Healthy Communities in Louisville.
“I look at Catholic education and Catholic high schools as places where we can answer the question ‘who do you say I am,’ ” she told the banquet audience. She expressed gratitude for the “really talented teachers at
St. Bernard School and Mercy Academy,” and noted that she now has “the great privilege of working for social justice for some of the most underprivileged people in our community.”
Bridges also thanked the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for providing her with “incredible exemplars of faith in action.”
Dr. James M. Hinkebein, a Louisville pediatrician, noted that public speaking “isn’t really my forte,” but was quick to thank the Catholic educators in his life.
“There is no doubt that Catholic grade school and high school education helped me to be where I am today,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much Catholic education means to me, I just know that without it, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am now.”
William Howard, founder and chief executive officer of Fastline Publications LLC, said his parents — and his Catholic education — helped teach him the importance of giving to others.
“This is the 20th anniversary of my father’s passing,” he said. “I learned how important it is to have a giving heart by watching my father and grandfather. I remember my grandfather sitting and writing checks and saying ‘I can’t help very many, but I can help a few.’ ”
Howard said those of us who’ve been blessed by society should “set the same example for our children and teach them to set aside 10 percent for charity.”
Ellyn Crutcher, a parishioner at the Church of the Epiphany and a local attorney and artist, gave thanks for “25 years of teaching mentors who shaped and grounded me.”
“I also give thanks to two Catherines,” she said. “Mother Catherine Spalding who founded the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth when she was but 19 years old, and Sister Catherine McAuley” who founded the Sisters of Mercy.
“Thank you for this honor, and for the gift of Catholic education,” she said.
Susan Spalding, executive director of the Mid-Kentucky Chorus, came to Kentucky after a business career in Chicago. She said she was “humbled to be a part of this wonderful group of people,” and also expressed gratitude for the support of her husband, Len.
Paul J. Schulte, a market research executive who founded Horizon Group International, also expressed gratitude for the support of his spouse. “I’m up here with you tonight,” he said, “because she has always been there for me.”
Schulte also noted the importance of the Catholic Education Foundation’s newly-created Annual Fund. “It must become a success so that more children can experience the excellence and spiritual excellence we have to offer.
“Everybody who speaks up here rightly thanks their parents,” he noted. “I dream of a child who’s a first grader next year, who in the year 2072 at the 83rd annual Salute says ‘thank you, Mom and Dad, for the gift of my Catholic education. It changed my life.’
“We have to make sure that happens,” he said.