Alumni

Distinguished Alumni Bios

Class of 2021

John D. Eckrich '65

Dr. John Eckrich is a life-long St. Louisan serving the community as a physician for the last 45 years. He is a graduate of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Grade School and graduated as valedictorian from Lutheran High School South in 1965. He graduated with a B.A. from Washington University. He went on to medical school at the University of Missouri, graduating cum laude. He served an internship and residency at the University Hospitals in Columbia, Missouri. He then served a fellowship in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. In 1978, he returned to St. Louis joining Grandel Medical Group and later Southwest Medical Group where he worked until retirement. He served on numerous civic, professional and religious boards during this time.

His medical practice included care of many LCMS clergy, teachers and their families, including the faculty and students at Concordia Seminary. Having observed and cared for professional burnout in a substantial number of professional church workers, he founded Grace Place Wellness Ministries in 1999. Grace Place provides encouragement and wellness education to church professionals to inspire and equip them to lead healthy lives. Grace Place has served more than 10,000 LCMS pastors, teachers and spouses through this program over the past 22 years.
Since retirement, John has authored four books on wellness: Vocation and Wellness; Fear Anxiety and Wellness; Resilient Aging and Wellness; and most recently, Family Wellness published by CPH in 2020. He travels the country as a lecturer and instructor on wellness topics from a Christian physician’s perspective.

John is married to Kathy, and they have three children and two grandchildren. John and Kathy live between St. Louis and Aspen, Colorado. as they strive to live resiliently with energy and purpose into the next chapters of living and serving.

Hal H. Haenel '76

Hal H. Haenel is a three-time Olympian and world champion in his sport, a noted Hollywood executive and an esteemed voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Academy Awards). Through both his career and sailing he has traveled the world and met kings, movie stars, rock stars and world-class athletes.

During his four years at Lutheran South, talented art teachers like Conrad Carlton and Richard Reiss played a pivotal role in developing Hal’s interest in the arts – which he parlayed into an extraordinary career in the motion picture industry. After all, there had to be something better than scooping custard and selling Christmas trees at Ted Drews Frozen Custard, the launching pad for many South students.

After graduating from South in 1976, Hal progressed from Meramec Community College to Columbia College Chicago, where he graduated in 1981 with a BA in Film and Photography. Somehow along the way he was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Piedmont College in Athens, Georgia.

With degree in hand, Hal ‘got his kicks on Route 66,’ traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles where he piled all his earthly possessions, including a saxophone he couldn’t play, into a convertible MGB. He landed an entry-level job at Cine-Pro [R1] in Hollywood, where he filmed commercials with Danny Thomas and rock videos with John Cougar Mellencamp[R2]  and other renown rock stars in the ‘80s. His expertise and burn for the industry grew, leading to a long-term role in stage production management at Hollywood Center Studios, home to notables like George Burns and Lucille Ball. Among his most noteworthy gigs was the Jeopardy show, where he appeared in a cameo role with Alex Trebek. Hollywood Center Studios is now a host studio for many Netflix films.

Hal went on to join 20th Century Fox, and soon was tapped to be President and GM of Studio Operations, managing all the back-lot operations groups on the 55-acre campus. Recognized across the industry for his leadership and dedication to the movie and TV profession, Hal was honored by being selected as a voting member of the Academy in 2016.

Throughout his career, Hal also pursued another life passion: sailboat racing after learning to sail on the mighty Mississippi. He competed for the United States and medaled in two successive Summer Olympic Games. He won a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, took gold in the Star class event at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and won the Star-Class World Championships in 1995 in Laredo, Spain.

His success as an Olympic champion led to his role as a torch bearer for the 1996 Olympics, where Hal ran the torch in the St. Louis leg, handing it off to Jackie Joiner-Kersee.  Hal also qualified for the USA Olympic sailing team and marched in the opening and closing ceremonies in Atlanta. The team did not medal that year, but during the sailing event in Savannah, Hal met his soon-to-be wife, Amy Benton. Hal and Amy currently reside in Savannah and have two children, Holden and Maren.

Endearingly called Hollywood Hal, he has three LHSS sisters Diane (Haenel) Grunseth ’75, Lynn (Haenel) Finer ’75 and Ruth (Haenel) Doering ’78.

Linda Lockhart '70

Linda Susan Lockhart was born in St. Louis, Missouri, baptized and confirmed at St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. She is the eldest daughter of Cornelious and Laura Lockhart.

Linda attended Lutheran schools from kindergarten through high school. In 1970, she became the first African-American student to graduate from Lutheran High School South. 

She attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1974.

After college, Linda started on what would become a 45-year journey as a reporter, editor, editorial writer and other positions at daily newspapers. She worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Milwaukee Journal, the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press, the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, both in Madison, Wisconsin. 

She worked at the St. Louis Beacon, an online-only news organization and at St. Louis Public Radio, an affiliate of National Public Radio. She retired in 2019.

In 2020, Linda returned to the newspaper business as interim managing editor of The St. Louis American. After three months in that interim position, she re-retired in 2021. 

Linda is married to Steve Korris. They have two children and two grandchildren. Her sister, Cornelia Lockhart Levels, is a graduate of Lutheran High School North.

Linda is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, ELCA, in Kirkwood, and since 2016 has served as a member of the Central States Synod (ELCA) Council.

To God be the glory.

Kathleen L. Odegard '76

Kathy (Johnson) Odegard was born in Valparaiso, Indiana to Tom and Adrienne (LHS Central ’53) Johnson. The family moved to St. Louis when she was four. She attended Webster Gardens Lutheran Grade School (now part of Christ Community Lutheran School) and was confirmed at the Lutheran Church of Webster Gardens, where she is a member today. A 1976 graduate of Lutheran High School South, she was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy in the first coed class. She graduated in 1980, one of 97 women in a class of 1,590. From there she entered Air Force pilot training, flying T-37 and T-38 jets. After 18 months of training, she was assigned to Strategic Air Command and flew the KC-135A and KC-135Q Stratotanker. She conducted aerial refueling all over the world, for every aircraft in the Air Force inventory, including the SR-71 Blackbird. In 1987, Kathy became a pilot for American Airlines. Still a trailblazer, as fewer than 2% of the 12,000+ pilots were women, she flew the Boeing 727 and MD-80. 

Kathy is married to Keith Odegard, a fellow 1980 Air Force Academy graduate. He served in the Air Force as a flight surgeon and orthopedic surgeon. Twenty-four years and nine Air Force moves later, they settled in St. Louis. All three of their children graduated from South (Steve ’07, Dean ’09, and Emily ’14). After 15 years of commercial flying for American Airlines, Kathy resigned to focus on family activities and have more time to volunteer. She has served in a variety of roles at church, in schools, on boards (including the Lutheran High School Association) and in the community. 

Living and traveling all over the country, as well as abroad, kindled Kathy’s interest and insights in cross-cultural outreach and service. Most recently she has worked with Christian Friends of New Americans, led the Lutheran Church of Webster Garden’s Missions Team, partnered with Bethlehem Lutheran Church outreaches, and guided servant teams to Belize. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kathy put the finishing touches on two books: Life in the Logbook and Fly High & Free. She strongly believes we are blessed to be a blessing and looks forward to seeking new opportunities to learn and serve in the name of Christ.

“I felt protected and nurtured at South. The day my grandfather died, the song at chapel happened to be “For All the Saints.” Wow! Mr. Pfund and Mr. Bauer were enthusiastic, motivational role models – huge factors in my embrace of the sciences. While a lab assistant, we may or may not have spiked Mr. Pfund’s coffee with a little something extra . . . Our very small marching band put on a football half-time show in 1972 intending to spell ‘VOTE’ but only had enough people for ‘VOT’. The Lancerettes had to form the ‘E’! I always enjoyed the camaraderie, coaches, and competitiveness shared by my field hockey and basketball teammates. Looking back, I appreciate how we learned from both success and failure, with laughter and tears, all the while feeling the love of God around us.”

Class of 2020

Fred Mark Kuhlmann - LHSS ‘66

Mark Kuhlmann is a lawyer, and former general counsel and business executive at McDonnell Douglas Corporation.  Following the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, he became president of SSE, a software company based in St. Louis.

Kuhlmann attended Washington University, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree, and later his doctor of jurisprudence (JD) degree from Harvard Law School. He is a member of the Missouri Bar and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and previously the American Corporate Counsel Association, the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association. He also is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa.

He was an associate attorney at the Stolar Partnership from 1973 to 1975.  He joined McDonnell Douglas in 1975 as a corporate tax attorney and rose rapidly through a variety of management positions. He served as corporate counsel-financial matters, associate general counsel and corporate assistant secretary, staff vice president and associate general counsel.

He joined McDonnell Douglas Health Systems Company in 1987 as executive vice president and was named senior vice president and general manager a year later. He was promoted to senior vice president and general manager of McDonnell Douglas Systems Integration Company in 1989 and was named president of the company later that year. He returned to the corporate office in 1991 and became senior vice president-administration, general counsel and secretary.  In that role, he was responsible for all of McDonnell Douglas’ legal and corporate administrative functions and was a member of the corporation’s Executive Management Council.

Kuhlmann retired in 1997 from McDonnell Douglas after its merger with Boeing. In 1998, he joined Systems Service Enterprises, Inc. (known as SSE), a software service company based in St. Louis which conducted application development, network services and classroom and computer-based training. Over the years, SSE continued to transition as the IT industry continued to change. Kuhlmann started at SSE as its President and Chief Operating Officer. In 2004, he became Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer and later Vice Chairman. He retired from SSE in 2013, but continued to provide legal services for a few more years.

Kuhlmann has chaired the boards of several organizations including, the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Lutheran Charities Association of St. Louis, the Lutheran Medical Center, Grace Place Wellness Ministries, and the Lutheran High School Association. He has served on many other boards including Thrivent Financial, the Concordia Seminary Regents Council, the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (the MUNY), the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Advisory Board of the Hildebrandt Institute of Legal Management and Concordia Plan Services. Kuhlmann served as president of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Des Peres, where he and his wife, Barbara, are still active members. The couple has two children, Matthew Kuhlmann and Sarah Kuhlmann Morgan, both graduates of Lutheran South.

“Lutheran South was a wonderful place to attend high school. I enjoyed many close friends, but particularly appreciated the faculty. What we might have lacked in the most up-to-date lab and other equipment, we made up for in the quality and dedication of our teachers. I particularly remember Tom Johnson as my freshman homeroom teacher who also coached my freshman basketball team to an undefeated season, and Roy Pfund who could make science interesting even to someone whose interest was not in science. I can still recite the dative and accusative prepositions in German thanks to Rev. Kutscher, and my math teachers, including Elizabeth Spencer and Iris Guenther were excellent. I’ll always remember Jack Faszholz who agreed to coach South’s first soccer team with no background in coaching soccer. We may not have been very good, but we had a great time with Coach Faszholz.”
 
 

Peter Mayer - LHSS ‘76

Peter Mayer is a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, touring musician and recording artist in Nashville, Tennessee. With his unique writing style, distinctive voice and virtuoso musicianship, Mayer creates compelling and soulful music for an electrifying live performance. Mayer has released 13 albums to date and tours year round with the Peter Mayer Group. He is the lead guitarist in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and has shared the stage with a variety of artists such as James Taylor, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

As a young child in Tamilnadu, India (where his parents were Lutheran Missionaries), Mayer had a passion for music. Drawing musical influence from his upbringing, Mayer’s music evokes melodic notes such as music and lyrics of The Beatles, traditional Indian music, church hymns and jazz standards. After moving back to the United States, he went on to study formal theory and composition and taught jazz guitar as a faculty member at Webster University. In 1988, Mayer released his debut album for Warner Brothers Records with the group PM. Working with producer Elliott Scheiner (Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Hornsby) – this album produced the single “Piece of Paradise,” charting to number eight on Billboard.

Mayer began touring with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band in 1988 as lead guitarist, a position that he holds to this day. He regularly tours with his own bands, including The Peter Mayer Group, The Peter Mayer trio and Peter Mayer’s Songs of Faith. Two years ago, he had the opportunity to share the stage with Paul McCartney at a fundraiser. It was a highlight of Mayer's career as McCartney played a pivotal role in his desire to play music. 

Mayer has joined with many charities through the musical world in raising awareness and resources for issues such as the environment and world social issues. He has served on the ELCA Malaria Board and has assisted with raising funds for “Always Being Made New.” He belongs to First Lutheran in Nashville.

Herm Meyer - LHSS Basketball Coach of 1973 State Championship team

Herm Meyer served as the Math Department chair at Lutheran South for 35 years, and as the varsity basketball coach for 26 years. He is the only coach at Lutheran South to lead the basketball team to a state championship, helping the school grow and prosper in its beginning years.

Meyer was born in Alliance, Nebraska in 1936 and moved to Michigan in 1949. He spent his high school years at Rogers City High School, where he was a two-time All-State basketball player. He attended Valparaiso University on a basketball and academic scholarship. Upon graduation, he was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to study mathematics at Stanford University. He returned to Valparaiso as assistant to the athletic director and completed coursework to teach and coach at the secondary level.

In 1961, Meyer accepted a position at the newly established Lutheran High School South. He continued his education by receiving a National Science Foundation grant to Bowdoin College, where he received his master’s degree in Mathematics. Upon his arrival at Lutheran South, parents and students were in need of a focal point around which the community could unite and grow. His establishment of a strong mathematics curriculum and a successful basketball program did just that.

In 1973, the South basketball team had a 30-1 record during its season and won the state championship in a 76-62 battle against Kansas City Manual in the famed Hearnes Fieldhouse at the University of Missouri.

"The reason I think we won this tournament is that we played better as a team, totally unselfishly," Meyer was quoted as saying.
 
Meyer continued coaching until 1988. He retired from teaching in 1996. He and his wife Patti are active members at Resurrection Lutheran Church, where they have attended for 49 years. The church was instrumental in supporting and encouraging Meyer during his time coaching and teaching at South. 
 
One of his favorite memories from his tenure at South, however, isn’t necessarily the state championship or the math program he built. It is the love and support shown by his students.

“When retiring from coaching in 1988, the players on my last team raised the necessary money at the dinner auction for the initial naming rite of South’s gym as the ‘Coach Herm Meyer Gym.’ This was a very special honor at the conclusion of my coaching career.”

Rebecca Pallmeyer - LHSS ‘72

Rebecca Pallmeyer is a federal judge in the U.S. District Court and the first woman to serve as Chief Judge in the court’s 200-year history. President Clinton nominated her to the federal bench in 1997. She was confirmed by the Senate the following year and has served as a judge for the Northern District Court of Illinois for more than 20 years.  Judge Pallmeyer has presided over dozens of civil and criminal trials, including the public corruption trial of a former Illinois governor.
 
Judge Pallmeyer believes her education at Lutheran South and the teachers there prepared her for college and success.  (She notes that, like many students, she had many family members who attended LHSS. All five of her siblings attended Lutheran High School, as did aunts, uncles, and cousins.)  After graduating in 1972, Judge Pallmeyer won the National Merit Scholarship and attended Valparaiso University in Indiana. She majored in history and humanities was enrolled in Christ College-the Honors College, graduating in 1976.  She met her husband, Dan McAdams, in Christ College, and the couple was married the year after graduation. Dan is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston.
 
Rebecca continued her education at the University of Chicago, where she earned her law degree in 1979.  Following graduation, she served for one year as law clerk to Justice Rosalie Wahl of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  In 1980, Rebecca and her husband moved to Chicago, where she began her legal career practicing with a commercial law firm in Chicago. In 1985, she became an Administrative Law Judge with the Illinois Human Rights Commission—a state agency that adjudicates civil rights claims (chiefly claims of employment discrimination and housing discrimination).  In 1991, she was selected by federal district judges to serve as a U. S. Magistrate Judge. Then in 1998, she was confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the federal trial court in Chicago. In July 2019 she became Chief Judge of the U. S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, one of the largest federal courts in the nation.
 
Judge Pallmeyer has won numerous awards and recognitions, including, most recently, the Chicago Diversity Scholarship Foundation’s Unity Award, the Chicago Inn of Court Joel M. Flaum Award, and the Chicago Phi Beta Kappa Association Distinguished Service Award.   She is active in legal and judicial organizations, including the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and specialty bar groups. She is the Seventh Circuit’s district judge representative to the United States Judicial Conference, the governing body for the federal courts. She is a member of the Board of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and has served for many years on the National Council for Christ College, the honors college at Valparaiso University. She currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Residential Center, a facility that helps persons who have served criminal sentences return to society. Judge Pallmeyer and her husband have two grown daughters and are active members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chicago, an ELCA congregation just steps from Wrigley Field. 
 
Asked about her best memories of Lutheran South, Judge Pallmeyer recalled that she “loved being in chapel every day, but especially on the days when the brass quartet played, sometimes irreverently, as we all gathered for worship. I loved being among the faithful fans attending soccer games. I have vivid and happy memories of singing in ‘inner choir’ (later known, I think, as ‘Choraliers’), performing Christmas carols one year in the main hall of the terminal at Lindbergh Airport.  All of my teachers were terrific. I remember Ms. Guenther patiently trying to get me to understand trigonometry. I remember Mr. Grundman, teaching us all to recite the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (still hammered into my head: ‘Reuben, Simeon, Levi, . . . ‘) I didn’t know how much I liked science until I took Chemistry with Mr. Pfund (who was like an uncle or father to so many of us) and Physics with Mr. Bauer. Mr. Pfund and Mr. Bauer drove to Chicago for the ceremony when I was sworn in as a district judge in 1998. What an honor!”
 
“Rick Barton, my teacher senior year, kick-started my interest in current events and American history. That interest continues to this day, and so has my friendship with Mr. Barton, whom I came to know years later as a fellow alum of Valparaiso University. And the high school musicals, directed by Henry J. Engelhardt, were a highlight of every year.  I had a small but fun part in Brigadoon, and I still remember the bright green dress I wore for my big scene.”
 

Dr. Kurt Senske - LHSS ‘77

Dr. Kurt Senske serves as Chief Executive Officer of Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South), a multifaceted, multi-state, social service agency with an annual operating budget of more than $100 million and 1,000 employees. During his tenure at Upbring, he has been responsible for more than quadrupling the size of the agency and steering the once-troubled agency back to financial strength.

Dr. Senske completed his undergraduate work at Concordia University Texas and Valparaiso University in Indiana, majoring in Accounting with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He holds a law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law, a master’s degree in International Relations from Schiller International University in Paris, France, and a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

Prior to his work at Upbring, Dr. Senske served as Assistant to the President at Concordia University Texas. Dr. Senske also practiced law in Chicago with several law firms, including the firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson. He has served as a senior staff member and consultant for candidates and government leaders at the local, state, and national levels in both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Dr. Senske’s extensive board service includes having served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Thrivent Financial, a Fortune 500 financial services organization. He currently serves as Chair of the InFaith Community Foundationand on the Board of Lutheran Hour Ministries. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Dr. Senske is the author of four books, Wine and the Word: Savor and Serve; The Calling:  Live a Life of Significance;Executive Values: A Christian Approach to Organizational Leadership, and Personal Values. His forthcoming book is titled, The CEO and the Board: The Art of Governance as a Competitive Advantage. A gifted public speaker, Dr. Senske has also been a guest columnist on a variety of issues for newspapers and magazines, as well as a regular commentator on television and radio. Dr. Senske and his wife Laurie live in Austin, Texas, and are the proud parents of their daughter Sydney and son-in-law Cody.  

“As I reflect back on my time at LHSS, it is increasingly clear how God intentionally utilized so many teachers and friends to prepare me for my various future vocations. I recall an accounting course where my teacher, Nola Fischer, went beyond the call of duty to encourage me and helped me to consider accounting as my college major. There was an independent study course with Dan Harms where I researched and became interested in the workings of the stock market.  Jack Faszholz and Roy Pfund gave me confidence both on and off the baseball field. Larry Torbeck always had an encouraging word. Maybe most important, even though I haven’t lived in St. Louis for a while now, my friends and classmates from LHSS remain family. There is something special about LHSS – its mission, its faith inspired education, and its commitment to its students, that I will always treasure. It is so much more than just a high school, for which I will forever be grateful.”