Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 23, 2002 - The National Alumni Council at Southeast Missouri State University will honor five individuals with the first Distinguished Service Awards during Homecoming festivities Oct. 19.

Recipients will be Rolla Anderson of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Don Burggrabe of Roseville, Calif.; Vernon Kasten of Jackson, Mo.; Brandon Merhle of Whittier, Calif.; and former Sen. Al Spradling Jr. of Cape Girardeau.

The Distinguished Service Award, which is being given for the first time this year, is presented to individuals who attended Southeast but who did not graduate, said Jane Stacy, director of alumni services and development.

"Each of these people have brought distinction to the University and remain active in the life of the University," she said.

The awards will be given at the All-Alumni Homecoming Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. in the Show Me Center. Tickets are $9.25 per person. To purchase a ticket or for more information on the awards, call (573) 651-2259.


Anderson entered Southeast in the fall of 1939 and attended until the second quarter of the 1942-1943 academic year, during which time he earned 66 credit hours. A graduate of Mt. Vernon (Ill.) High School, Anderson later attended Jones Count Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. He earned a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in 1944 and a master of arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1951.

Anderson is the former director of athletics at Kalamazoo College, where he was named to the College Hall of Fame in 1992. Over the course of his career, he also served as director of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Boys' 18 and 16 Tennis Championships; a teacher and coach at Battle Creek (Mich.) Lakeview High School and at Marshall (Mich.) High School. He earlier served as a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant.

He has been named to the Western Tennis Association Hall of Fame, the Western Michigan Hall of Fame and the NCAA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame and has been elected to the Major Wingfield Society, a prestigious society of tennis volunteers. Anderson has been honored as an outstanding alumnus of Mt. Vernon High School, has received the Presidential Sports Certificate of Recognition from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and has had the Anderson Athletic Center named in his honor at Kalamazoo College.

Anderson has been honored with the USTA Tennis Educational Merit Award and has been recognized by the USTA for 25 years of service. He also has been honored by the City of Kalamazoo for his contributions to tennis in his community. He has been involved with the USTA for 44 years and has served in a number of capacities, including director of the USTA Boys' 18 and 16 Tennis Championships and chairman of the USTA 70 Ranking Committee, the USTA Junior Tennis Council, the USTA Junior Tennis Program and the USTA Junior Sanction Committees.

Anderson has served as chairman of the NCAA Tennis Committee and is an official referee for NCAA and Mid-American Conference Tennis Championships.

He has coached three undefeated football teams - two at the high school and one at the college level - and, in 1962, he was named the College Football Coach of the Year in Michigan. He has been a member of the NCAA Selection Committee for Baseball and Football.

Anderson also has been involved in a number of civic organizations, including the American Cancer Board, the YMCA Board, the Big Brothers Board and the Kiwanis Club.

He and his wife, Patricia, are the parents of three daughters: Julie Ann Anderson Paulsen, Susan Jane Anderson VanDis, and Mary Jane Anderson Pickell.


A St. Louis native, Burggrabe entered Southeast in the fall of 1951 and attended until the spring of 1954, when he was drafted and later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. During his academic career at Southeast, he earned 75 credit hours, was active in drama and appeared in "Harvey," "Brigadoon," "The Hasty Heart," "Finian's Rainbow" and "Lady Be Good." He became a speech major and got actively involved in broadcasting and public communication. He was a member of Black Mask and appeared in five productions, winning the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as "Yank" in "The Hasty Heart." He served on the Social Life Committee, was a frequent master of ceremonies for student talent shows, and was a charter member of Sigma Tau Gamma, the first fraternity recognized at Southeast. During his years at Southeast, he was employed by then KFVS Radio as a disc jockey and as a news writer.

After entering the Air Force, Burggrabe spent 26 years on active duty, holding a number of key positions in the United States and abroad. In 1973, he joined the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas for four years and became the director of advertising and publicity in 1975. He personally originated the "Air Force - A Great Way of Life" slogan and campaign, which helped recruiters reach 100 percent of their goals. He was promoted to colonel in 1976.

Following a short tour as director of public affairs for Air Training Command, he became West Coast Director of Public Affairs in LosAngeles, reporting directly to the Pentagon in September 1977. He was responsible for $100 million dollars of free positive visibility for the Air Force in both network television and Hollywood movie projects during his three-year tenure. Some of the productions he and his staff were responsible for bringing to the big screen included: "The Right Stuff," "Red Flag," "Enola Gay," "Project UFO," episodes of "Fantasy Island," "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Mork & Mindy," "Six Million Dollar Man," and "Bionic Woman."

Burggrabe retired from the Air Force in 1980 and joined G.D. Searle & Co. in Skokie, Ill., as a regional public affairs director, becoming vice president of public affairs of Searle Labs, U.S., in 1981.

Burggrabe is active in the Methodist Church and is a graduate of the University of Omaha (now the University of Nebraska) and Air University's Squadron Officer School. He is decorated with the Air Force Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service medals and three Commendation medals.

He retired from G.D. Searle and Co. in 1991. He and his wife, Alice Green, are the parents of a daughter and two sons.


Kasten is president of Kasten Masonry Sales, Kasten Concrete Products and Kasten Clay Products, and is co-founder, president and a member of the Board of Directors of Ceramo Co., Inc., a company that manufactures red clay pottery and employs 135. Kasten attended Southeast from the fall of 1941 to the spring of 1943. He completed 71 credit hours, focusing on pre-engineering. During his years at Southeast, he was a member of the University band and orchestra and of Gamma Delta.

Kasten continued his education at Rolla, Mo., earning bachelor of science and master of science degrees in ceramic engineering, both from then Missouri School of Mines (MSM) and Metallurgy, now the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR). At Rolla, he was president of Sigma Pi fraternity and the Interfraternity Council. There, he was a member of the ROTC Band. In 1994, he received the MSM-UMR Entrepreneur Award. In 1995, he earned a professional engineering degree in ceramic engineering from UMR.

Kasten has been active in his community and in civic organizations. He has been president, secretary and treasurer of St. Paul Lutheran Church Voters Assembly in Jackson, Mo. He has been president, treasurer and a member of the Board of the Easter Seals Society of Cape Girardeau. He has directed the Boy Scout Sustaining Membership Drive for two years in the Jackson area, has been president and a member of the Jackson Industrial Development Board and the St. Francis Foundation Board, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, Kasten has been a member of the American Ceramic Society; the National Institute of Ceramic Engineers; Keramos, a national honorary ceramic fraternity; S.E.Mo Engineers Club; and the International Business Institute at Southeast Missouri State University. He has been active in the Rotary Club, serving as club president and secretary, chairman of the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program Committee and the Rotary District Youth Exchange Committee. He has been secretary-treasurer of the National Clay Pot Manufacturers Association and a member of the Tower Club.

Kasten and his wife, Stacia, are the parents of Vernon Kasten Jr. of Jackson and Lawrence Kasten of Cape Girardeau.


Mehrle attended Southeast intermittently from the fall of 1941 to the spring of 1946. During that time, he completed about 53 credit hours and participated in the Benton Society, a cappella choir, band and orchestra. He met his wife, Miriam at Southeast when they both participated in Dr. Brandt's a cappella choir.

Mehrle went on to receive bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Mehrle is retired as associate dean of student services at the University of Southern California School of Music in Los Angeles. He and his wife have a son, David Mehrle, and a daughter, Dana Emery.


Spradling attended Southeast from 1937 to 1939, while pursuing majors in history and English. During that time, he was a member of the Benton Literary Society.

He received his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1942. He served with the F.B.I. from 1942 to 1945.

Following his return to Cape Girardeau, he became city attorney of Cape Girardeau and served in that capacity from 1948 to 1952 when he was elected during a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by D.W. Gilmore. At the time of his election, Spradling was the youngest person ever elected to the Missouri Senate.

During his years in the Senate, Spradling became known as advocate for the mentally ill and retarded and he was dubbed "The Father of Mental Health and Retardation Legislation." He also was instrumental in the creation of the "Open Records Law," which opens the records of state agencies, counties and cities to newspapers, the General Assembly and the public at-large. He later addressed legislative groups throughout the country on the opening of records of states, counties and cities. Spradling's last official duty in the Senate was to chair a committee that completely remodeled the Senate Chamber.

During his tenure in office, Spradling received 61 different awards from public agencies and was, in 1978, elected to the Academy of Missouri Squires in recognition of his contribution to the history, honor and prestige of the State of Missouri. While serving as president pro tem, he served 23 days as Governor of the State in the absence of the governor and the lieutenant governor outside of the state.

Spradling spent 25 years in the Senate and was the dean of the Senate for the last six years in office. In 1961, he was elected president pro tem of the Missouri Senate and served in that capacity for four years. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to the Council of State Governments, which is made up of key legislators in 50 states, and later became the chairman of the council.

Spradling has been practicing law for 60 years as a partner with the Spradling & Spradling firm.

A member of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, Spradling and his late wife, Margaret, are the parents of A.M. Spradling III and Robert Spradling. A.M. Spradling III is the former mayor of Cape Girardeau and practices law with his father. Robert Spradling is pastor of Maywood Baptist Church in Independence, Mo.


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