William & Mary honors five with medallion

  • Honored alumniW&M 2011 Alumni Medallion awardees (from left): J. Robert Mooney '66, Marilyn Ward Midyette '75, Michael K. Powell '85, D.P.S. '02, Sue Hanna Gerdelman '76 and Rene A. Henry '54.

    Photo by Skip Rowland '83

    Honored alumni

The William and Mary Alumni Association honored five of its most distinguished graduates on Saturday morning, Feb. 5, 2011. This year’s event featured video tributes, a packed Commonwealth Auditorium and heartfelt and passionate speeches by the awardees, who were Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, Rene Henry ’54, Marilyn Ward Midyette ’75, J. Robert “Bob” Mooney ’66 and Michael K. Powell ’85, D.P.S. ’02.
 
The Alumni Medallion is the highest award the William and Mary Alumni Association can bestow on a graduate. Recipients are recognized for their outstanding professional accomplishments, leadership and dedication to their community and commitment to their alma mater.

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Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76 is known throughout the College community for her leadership and volunteerism across the many communities that she has lived in nationwide and most recently at her alma mater. “I came here as a freshman and all of my dreams came true,” said Gerdelman.
 
“A lot of fun, a lot of laughter and a lot of hard work. Today’s award is about giving back to William and Mary,” she said. “And that was a logical choice to support this institution that gave me so much. Whatever success that I’ve had in my life, can certainly be traced back here.”
 
He may be best known for his books and for being a pioneer in public relations, but Rene A. Henry ’54 has had many careers since graduation from the College. Henry used his opportunity Saturday to reflect back on his school and issue a proposition to all graduates.
 
“I was amazed to hear that we have over 87,000 alums now,” said Henry. “Now that we are coming up on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s great speech, I would send a challenge to all alumni. Look at what William and Mary has done for you, now do something for William and Mary. Go Tribe!”
 
Marilyn Ward Midyette ’75 made a name for herself as a vice president at Sprint and has recently dedicated herself to nonprofits like the Alzheimer’s Association and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.
 
“For some, the College was where we met our life’s calling, but for all of us, it’s a place of constant value,” said Midyette. “William and Mary taught me the courage to try something new and to take risks. It taught me confidence and character to know that to whom much is given, then much is expected.”
 
It has been said that the Renaissance lives on through J. Robert “Bob” Mooney ’66, as he has made his mark in the Richmond, Va., area, leading businesses, nonprofits and performing arts organizations.
 
“I, like many of our speakers, were reminded of the motto that states ‘students come here wanting to change the world, and leave with the tools to do it.’ Some of the students here today will actually change the world. But all of us can change someone’s world. And so, whether you carry out your calling by changing the world, or someone’s world, you will always find success in your work.”
 
Former FCC chairman and rector of the College, Michael K. Powell ’85, D.P.S. ’02 was the final speaker. His words summed up what so many have felt about the significance of the Alumni Medallion, and giving back to the College.
 
“I’ve had the great pleasure of being recognized a number of times at the College for different things, but none can rival this,” said Powell. “The Alumni Medallion is a sort of bookend to the letter I received well over 30 years ago inviting me to come to William and Mary. You see, when you get that letter, the College is taking a chance. It thinks it’s seen potential, and it’s going to give you an opportunity to prove it right. And when you stand here and receive the Alumni Medallion, you feel that their money and their energy were not wasted. And that is extraordinary. The joy of our great College is that it’s a story that is never finished, and as the charter says, for all time coming. And I was privileged to play one part, in one chapter in that illustrious story.”

The 2011 Alumni Medallion ceremony can be seen in its entirety at www.wmalumni.com