2014 Alumni Award Recipients
Pictured above (L to R): Rodger Pille '91, Bob Roncker '61, Nick Hahn '63, Tom Aug '67, Tom Mason, and Bernie Stowe.
Rodger Pille '91 - Cultural Enrichment Award
The Cultural Enrichment Award is named in honor of Lee M. Trauth, longtime music teacher at Elder and composer of many of the Elder songs still used today. It is awarded to a member of the Elder community who has advanced the appreciation of culture in society. This year’s recipient is Rodger Pille, Elder Class of 1991.
To say the least, Rodger Pille was an active participant in the experience that is Elder High School.
Outside of his involvement with glee club and Series at Eight, he also wrestled, wrote for The Purple Quill, tutored, was a Big Brother to an underclassman and a member of the National Honor Society, and served on the liturgy committee and P.R. club.
Upon graduation, Rodger attended the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and graduated cum laude in 1995. He began his career in the communications field over 15 years ago as a news reporter before joining the communications team at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, where he led P.R. campaigns and served as chief spokesperson for the Center’s blockbuster exhibits and films. Later, Rodger managed the P.R. and social media efforts for the Newport Aquarium. He is currently the Communications and Development Manager for Cincinnati Landmark Productions.
Throughout his communications career, Rodger has kept up his love for theatre – performing and directing for several companies around town, including: the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, Showboat Majestic, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and the Commonwealth Theater Company, among others.
Most recently, Rodger began popping up on TV screens throughout the region in commercial acting roles for several prominent products and companies, including: UC Health, Cincinnati Bell, Penn Station, Fazzoli’s, Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and Gold Star Chili. He also can be seen – albeit briefly – in the George Clooney film The Ides of March, Hallmark Channel’s The Christmas Spirit, A&E Network’s Those Who Kill, and (hopefully) the upcoming Cate Blanchett film Carol.
Rodger and his wife Krista Katona Pille live in Western Hills with their son Charlie, who will attend Our Lady of Visitation as a first grader this fall.
Bob Roncker '61 - Athletic Excellence Award
The Athletic Excellence Award is named in honor of Walter “Babe” Bartlett, Elder coach of many different sports for 25 years from 1927-1953. It is awarded to a member of the Elder community who embraces the values of fair competition and whose tenacity and sacrifice have advanced the Elder athletic tradition. This year’s recipient is Bob Roncker, Elder Class of 1961.
Little did a sophomore in the fall of 1958 realize that a Cross Country team organized to keep Elder basketball players in shape would lead to a lifelong passion and career in the sport of running! During his senior year at Elder, Bob Roncker was State of Ohio runner-up in Cross Country. He then went on to the University of Cincinnati where he competed in Track and Cross Country. As a college senior, he was captain of the Cross Country team and established a school record in the six-mile run.
Bob graduated from U.C. in 1966 with Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Education, and then Elder’s athletic director Father Edward Rudemiller offered him the Cross Country job. In Bob’s three years of coaching at Elder, the Panthers won three GCL titles, two District titles and one runner-up, and three Regional titles. The Cross Country team finished 20th, 7th, and 2nd in the State in that span. During his last two years at Elder, Bob earned a Master’s degree in counseling education.
In 1972, Bob and his wife Mary Ann moved to Mountain View, California to work with Runners World magazine. Eighteen months later, they returned to their roots, where Bob taught and coached at Walnut Hills High School for six years. His Eagles once defeated the Panthers in a dual meet.
Bob had often thought of opening a running specialty shop. A 1979 venture on the east side failed, but Bob was not finished. In 1981, he and Mary Ann opened the first Bob Roncker’s Running Spot. The store gradually expanded to four locations. In 2007, Bob was voted into the Independent Running Retailers Association Retailing Hall of Fame.
In the time period from 2008 to 2012, Bob Roncker’s Running Spot was recognized with many additional awards. In November 2013, Bob and Mary Ann sold the business to move onto the next phase of their lives.
Nick Hahn '63 - Christian Leadership Award
The key element of Christian leadership is service to others, and Nick Hahn has exemplified this quality throughout his life. Nick is a member of the Class of 1963, and he has remained active in the Elder community over the last 50 years. While at Elder, Nick served on the Student Council Board as a Senior, and he was also a member of the football, track and field and wrestling teams. As a Senior, Nick received the Varsity E Award for his accomplishments as a 3-sport letterman. Nick graduated from Xavier University in 1967 and then returned to Elder High School to teach American History where he also served as the Head Reserve Football Coach and Assistant Varsity Wrestling Coach during the ‘67-‘68 and ‘68-‘69 school years.
Nick joined The Kroger Co. in 1970 as a Co-Manager of the Western Hills store and he had a successful tenure in the organization. At the same time, Nick volunteered much of his free time to coaching numerous sports while his children attended Our Lady of Victory School. He continued coaching boys’ basketball at Victory for several years even after his children had moved on to high school and college. After a very successful 37 year career, Nick retired from Kroger in 2007 as the Director of Corporate Brands. He was inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame that same year for his role in helping to shape Kroger’s Corporate Brands strategy as well as championing the needs of the customer.
Over the years, Nick has served on various non-profit Boards in our community. Nick served for 6 years on the Board of Crayons to Computer, an organization that provides free teaching materials to teachers and for 10 years on the Board of the Freestore Foodbank. In 2006, he joined the Board of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services, a local non-profit organization serving adults with severe mental illness in Hamilton County. He served as the Board Chairman in 2010, and in the same year, he was recognized as WKRC-TV Local 12’s first “Hometown Hero” for his dedication to GCB and to his community. Nick continues to serve as a GCB board member today.
As many of you know, Nick is very passionate about Elder High School and he is proud to be associated with a place where young men from all communities grow not only intellectually but also physically, spiritually, culturally and socially. Nick has served on Elder’s Alumni Board of Governors for the past 15 years and on Elder’s Advisory Board as Alumni Representative for the Class of ’63 for the past 2 ½ years.
Nick and his wife Barb live in Western Hills and they enjoy spending as much family time as possible with their adult children and grandchildren. Nick is frequently spotted at local gyms and ball fields cheering on his grandchildren.
Tom Aug '67 - Christian Leadership Award
The Christian Leadership Award is named in honor of Father Urban J. Stang, a former Elder Principal. It is awarded to a member of the Elder community who best exemplifies the Christian values upon which Elder High School is based. This year’s recipient is Tom Aug, Elder Class of 1967.
Tom was very active while at Elder, including being a three-year varsity football player and co-captain of the 1966 Panther team. He received All-City, All-Southwest Ohio, and honorable mention All-State at defensive back, earning him a scholarship to the University of Virginia. In the end, he received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree from Xavier University.
Following college, Tom became a junior high school English teacher and school administrator from 1971 to 1981, and in 1974, he was named Hamilton County Young Educator of the Year. Then, he became C.O.O. of a physician billing company for ten years and Vice President of Practice Development and Information Systems at the University of Cincinnati. In 1998, Tom founded and is President of a health care consulting firm. Tom’s career has been marked by a spirit of giving of himself to Elder and the community. He served on the Elder Alumni Board in the mid-1970’s, and worked on several Elder capital campaign fund drives.
In 2005, Tom, along with Elder’s director of campus ministry, Roger Auer, co-founded the Elder Spiritual Boosters. In 2008, he was the commencement speaker at Elder’s graduation, and over the years has made numerous presentations to Elder students about his Catholic faith. Additionally, he has been active in his church as a lector and Eucharistic minister, and has been a volunteer with the local St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Tom comes from a strong Elder family, beginning with his father George, an Elder grad of 1929. Through the years, many members of the Aug family have been involved at Elder. Tom and his wife Kathy Grote Aug have been married for 43 years and have four children – three Elder grads and one Seton grad.
Tom Mason - Professional Distinction Award
The Professional Distinction Award is named in honor of Paul V. Stryker, a teacher at Elder for over 40 years. It is awarded to a member of the Elder community whose professional achievements foster superior performance in his peers as well as the men of Elder. This year’s recipient is a former teacher, coach, and counselor at Elder... Tom Mason.
Tom arrived at Elder in the early 1960’s as an American History teacher. His educational background includes graduating from St. Xavier High School; the Athenaeum of Ohio with a B.A. in Philosophy; a Master’s degree from Xavier University, majoring in counseling, history and government; and various other courses at several schools. Tom is a licensed professional counselor by the State of Ohio and is a certified school counselor. He also has permanent certification in Latin, history, and government.
Tom was on the staff at Elder High School for 40 years – the first six years teaching American History and the last thirty-four as a counselor. In those 40 years, Tom took just one sick day. He also coached swimming with Tom Davoran, coordinated the canned food drive for ten years with Tom Darnell, and initiated and coordinated Elder’s in-house scholarship program for incoming freshmen.
Since his retirement in 2002, Tom has taught Latin at Covedale School and has been very active as a volunteer for eight years at St. Boniface Church rectory. He currently volunteers at WVXU fundraisers, is producer/engineer for two radio programs on WMKV (89.3 FM on your dial), as front-desk receptionist at Catholic Charities, and teaches English as a second language to refugees at Catholic Charities.
Tom is also currently taking third-year German, plays tennis and Euchre, reads much and attends the theater. For 35 years, he and Fr. Don Rettig played handball every week; however, Tom did not reveal who was the most frequent winner. Everything in which Tom has been involved speaks to his high level of enthusiasm and dedication. During his tenure at Elder, he assisted countless students in many ways. To quote a former student, “Tom Mason was one of my most inspirational and motivating teachers. His enthusiasm caused me to have a greater appreciation for history and fostered a love of reading.”
Bernie Stowe - Spirit Award
The Spirit Award is named in honor of Father Edward L. Rudemiller, alumnus of and longtime athletic director at Elder. It is awarded to a member of the Elder community who perpetuates the unselfish enthusiasm that is the Elder experience. This year’s recipient is the one and only, Bernie Stowe.
You won’t find a lot of people around Cincinnati who are as dedicated as Bernie Stowe. Everything he does has longevity – his marriage, his craft, his commitment to a school from which he did not graduate. As an alumni association, however, we are always proud to have Bernie in our corner. Whether he’s enjoying a few drinks and hours of camaraderie with the guys at Dad’s Club, helping us arrange the next Sports Stag speaker, or just stopping by the Alumni Office with his buddy Dominic Bonavita to say “hello”, Bernie is the kind of guy we like to call “one of our own”.
He is always willing to help out whenever Elder comes knocking. This has been most obvious whenever the alumni association goes seeking featured speakers for the annual Sports Stag. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and former Cincinnati Red Joe Morgan said it best when he was the featured speaker at the 2012 Stag: “Bernie Stowe is the reason I agreed to be here this evening.” In a sign of appreciation, the Elder crowd gave Bernie a well-deserved standing ovation.
Bernie has been married to his wife Priscilla for 56 years. Due to the financial constraints of a large family, Bernie did not graduate from Elder. Instead, he attended a vocational school. However, the Stowes’ commitment to a Catholic education is apparent in the lives of their four children, three of whom graduated from Elder – Mark ’76, Jeff ’79, and Eric ’83 – and a daughter who graduated from Seton – Kimberly ’77. The couple also has 12 grandchildren, two of whom have graduated from Elder and one is currently a freshman.
In 2008, Principal Tom Otten presented Bernie with an honorary diploma from Elder High School. He says that it is “one of [his] biggest honors”. That’s really saying something coming from a guy who has earned a lot of honors in his lifetime! He has received the Powel Crosley Jr. Award from the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame for his dedication and devotion to the ongoing success of the Cincinnati Reds. In addition, the excellence of his work has been recognized by his selection as equipment manager for four National League All-Star teams. And in 2003, the Reds clubhouse at Great American Gall Park was officially named after Bernie to commemorate his years of service and his role as a living link to over six decades of Reds history. He has also received the Major League Equipment Managers Award for over 50 years of service, and he was inducted into the Price Hill Old Timers Hall of Fame.