Alumnus/na of the Year This distinction recognizes a Truman graduate whose life’s work is representative of the core values the University strives to instill in all its students:
2014 Alumni of the Year:
Mike McClaskey ('85) & Janet (Yearns) McClaskey ('84)
2013 Alumna of the Year: Mary (Rhodes) Russell ('80)
A seventh-generation Missourian, Chief Justice Mary R. Russell was appointed to the Supreme Court of Missouri in 2004. She was retained by a majority vote of the citizens in November 2006, for a 12-year term. Russell was elected as Chief Justice by her colleagues and will serve a two-year term, which started July 1, 2013. From 1995 to 2004, she served as the Chief Judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, and was the Chief Judge there from 1999 to 2000.
Chief Justice Russell attended Truman State University, receiving her B.S. in home economics and B.A. in language and literature summa cum laude in 1980. She went on to graduate from the University Of Missouri School Of Law in 1983 with her Juris Doctorate. After graduation, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable George Gunn, Jr. at the Supreme Court of Missouri. Chief Justice Russell worked at Clayton and Rhodes, a private practice law firm in Hannibal, until her appointment by Governor Mel Carnahan to the Missouri Court of Appeals.
During her years at Truman, Chief Justice Russell was active in many student organizations including: Cardinal Key, the Index student newspaper, the Mass Communications Club, Sigma Delta Chi, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Sigma Tau Delta, Student Ambassadors, and the Student Home Economics Association. She came to Truman as an elite Pershing Scholar after being awarded valedictorian of her graduating class at Hannibal High School. During her summers, she returned to Hannibal and worked for the Hannibal Courier-Post and also held internships in the Missouri House of Representatives and US Congress. She was appointed to the Truman Board of Governors in 1993 and served until 1997. She was president of the Board when Northeast Missouri State University was officially renamed Truman State University.
Chief Justice Russell received numerous honors and awards including: the University of Missouri School of Law Citation of Merit Award and the Spirit of Martha Award; a Henry Toll Fellowship; the Young Lawyers Chairperson Award in 1992 and 1993; the Missourians for Equal Justice Award; the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club 2001 Appreciation of the Year Award; Faculty/Alumni Award at the University of Missouri in 2002. She was inducted into the Missouri Academy of Squires in 2002 and the Rollins Society at Mizzou in 2011.
The city of Kirkwood honored Chief Justice Russell as the Citizen of the Year in 2003. That same year, she was the recipient of the President’s Award from the Woman Lawyers Association and the Distinguished Service Award from Truman State University. She also received the Women Helping Women Award from the Soroptimist Club, the Rotarian of the Year Award in Jefferson City in 2007, Women’s Justice Award in 2008, a Woman of Achievement Award from the Zonta Club and the Lasting Legacy Award in 2012 from Missouri CASA.
She spends a lot of her time guest speaking and is an active member of the Back Stoppers Board of Directors, Jefferson City Rotary Club, PEO, Missouri Women’s Forum, Grace Episcopal Church, and the Missouri Historical Society. She also volunteers as a Truancy Court Judge at Lewis and Clarke Middle School in Jefferson City, and devotes much time to mentoring young people and speaking to groups around the state.
Chief Justice Russell is married to Jim Russell. Truman has been a family tradition; two of her siblings and two of her nieces also attended Truman.
Past Recipients of the Alumnus/na of the Year Award
2013: Mary (Rhodes) Russell ('80)
2012: Jack Magruder ('57) & Sue (Brimer) Magruder ('55, '77)
2011: Steve Rose ('69)
2010: Larry Quisenberry ('66, '75) & Sharron (Bailey) Quisenberry ('66)
2009: Greg A. Gerhardt ('79)
2008: Lanny Morley ('62, '64) & Beth (Fisher) ('63) Morley
2007: Randa Rawlins ('79)
2006: Guy Burton ('53, '55) & Betty (McKanna) Burton
2005: Eugene Croarkin Sr. ('49, '52)
2004: Dwain Horn ('50)
2003: Calvin Roebuck ('57)
2002: Linda Miller ('70)
2001: Dean Rosebery ('41) & Amy (Ayres) ('43) Rosebery
2000: Carole Kennedy ('72)
1999: Chuck Foudree ('66)
1998: B.D. "Bud" Hunter ('50)
1997: Joseph Hasenstab ('60)
1996: Steve Gaw ('78) & Fannie (Bowdish) Gaw ('84)
1995: James C.C. Chen ('86) 1994: Ruth Warner Towne ('39)
1993: Frederick "Fritz" Lauer ('50)
1992: Ray Bentele ('60) & Mary (Cox) Bentele ('60)
1991: Larry Moore ('67)