WHS Legacy Society selects new distinguished honorees


The recently formed Waterloo High School Legacy Society is continuing its mission to honor the past and showcase the school’s rich history for present and future generations by naming five new individuals to honor.

The next five distinguished graduates to appear on the WHS Legacy Wall are Hardy C. Voris (Class of 1879), Jack Burke (WHS faculty from 1956-1991), H.R. Gentsch (Class of 1957), Sandi Shadowens Brown (Class of 1984) and Sara J. Lewis (Class of 2002).

These individuals will be honored during a special “Music in the Courtyard” event to take place Thursday, Oct. 2 at WHS starting at 6:30 p.m.

“They were nominated by members of our community and voted upon by the Legacy Society,” society founder Kelly Lerch said. “We are so very proud of their accomplishments, influence and the pride they have given Waterloo High School in leaving a legacy that we can honor.”

The “Music In The Courtyard” idea was brought up as a way to celebrate the fine arts and recognize these new honorees.

Sandi Shadowens Brown, Jack Burke, Sara J. Lewis, H.R. Gentsch, Hardy C. Voris

“It is also an opportunity to share the beautiful high school courtyard with the community,” Lerch said, adding “we chose the week of WHS Homecoming as it is a week to celebrate and to hopefully bring graduates back to the high school.”

Voris left his imprint not only on WHS, but on the entire community of Waterloo and Monroe County. He was the founder and editor of the Waterloo Republican newspaper, as well as founder and president of First National Bank of Waterloo.

Among the many accomplishments to which Voris can lay claim include the idea of making Fort de Chartres a state park, choosing the location of the first Waterloo City Park, and serving as president of the Waterloo School Board for many years.

Burke taught history at WHS for 34 years. He also taught the dual credit college classes that were offered to the students.

“Burke shared his love of history and current events with his students each day,” Lerch said. “His passion, gentleness, kindness and humor were the legacy he leaves. Mr. Burke was a gentleman, an educator and an inspiring man. We are honored to recognize him.”

Gentsch attended SIU-Carbondale following high school and began his career in the tele

communications industry in 1960 at Harrisonville Telephone Company. Gentsch has guided HTC to become one of the top 100 telecommunications companies in the United States over his 54 years with the company.

He has been a leader in civic organizations, spearheading many community events, providing scholarships and encouraging new programs for the schools and community.

Gentsch spent his entire life on the “Nickel Block,” the 200 block of Main Street in downtown Waterloo, and has kept the HTC headquarters in that location.

Brown graduated from Maryville University, majoring in communications and marketing. She has worked in St. Louis radio for more than 25 years and is currently general manager and morning show host for Joy FM 99.1.

Under her guidance, Joy FM 99.1 has become one of the top 10 St. Louis radio stations and one of the top five non-commercial Christian radio stations in the country. She was recently elected to serve on the Christian Music Broadcasters Board of Directors, and is the first female to be nominated or voted on the board which oversees the Christian music radio station industry.

Following graduation, Lewis attended Saint Louis University and then Stanford Law School. She graduated in 2009, and was awarded the Order of the Coif, which is given to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of the class.

Lewis was an articles editor of the Stanford Law Review, was recognized for her numerous hours of pro bono service, was co-president of the Women of Stanford Law, and had several articles published in law reviews.

Following a clerkship in the U.S. Court of Appeals in West Virginia, Lewis is an associate for a prestigious New York City law firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions and other areas of corporate takeover defense, governance, securities and transactional matters.

Lerch said the WHS Legacy Society has been well-received in the short time of its existence.

“We are looking for additional graduates and others to join us,” Lerch said. “It has been very exciting to see former graduates reach out and celebrate their times at WHS.  It is very exciting and we are very proud of  the accomplishments we are discovering in our graduates.”

For more information on the WHS Legacy Society, visit klerch@wcusd5.net.

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