The Carthage Beacon Award honors each recipient for one specific accomplishment, act of service, professional or personal achievement, event, or program. The College is proud to recognize these alumni, whose actions illuminate those around them.
Wayne Cramer ’82
Majors: Business Administration, Economics
Hometown: Ingleside, Illinois
Wayne Cramer founded Andean Aid, a nonprofit that fights poverty and helps at-risk children in mountain regions of Venezuela and Colombia. In January 2017, the organization opened its 10th Help and Hope Center.
In collaboration with local churches, Andean Aid promotes long-term spiritual and economic development by establishing Help and Hope centers that serve more than 600 children. The organization operates a Christian school enrolling 190; supports enrichment programs for low-income families, including a youth soccer team and a dance troupe; and provides food and medicine during the economic crisis in Venezuela.
Along with his wife, Susan, Mr. Cramer began the journey of service to the South American region after his retirement from a 30-year career in the nuclear industry. He also chaired the Policy Council at Head Start and served on the Board of Community Action Partnership in Lake County, Illinois.
The Cramers have three daughters.
Richard E. Custin ’80, M.Ed. ’96
Majors: Business Administration, Public Management
Hometown: Escondido, California
In recognition of his expertise in mediation, Richard E. Custin was appointed as an affiliate professor in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego for 2016-17.
Teaching business law and ethics at the University of San Diego, Prof. Custin exercises a practical approach based on his experience as an owner and manager of a law office, a mediator, and a litigation attorney.
After earning his bachelor’s (magna cum laude) and master’s degrees from Carthage, Prof. Custin earned law degrees at Drake University and the University of San Diego (cum laude). He previously was appointed judge pro tempore in Los Angeles and holds active bar memberships in California and Illinois.
Prof. Custin serves on the board of the InterNational Academy of Dispute Resolution. Since 2010, he has shared expertise through published articles on mediation, debt cancellation, Social Security, medical malpractice, and blogging.
A former Carthage faculty member, Prof. Custin was an associate professor of business administration from 1990 to 2001 and department chair from 1992 to 2001. At San Diego, he has received awards for innovative teaching and faculty service.
This year, he became part of the faculty at the Joan B. Kroc School. The prestigious program teaches students to become active participants in the change-making process.
Pat Hamilton ’78
Hometown: Silverthorne, Colorado
Pat (Thoennes) Hamilton won a 2015 Midwest Book Award for her biography, “Hidden Treasure: The Life and Art of Theodore Czebotar”.
A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Mrs. Hamilton graduated summa cum laude from Carthage. She was grateful that her status as a working, commuting transfer student proved no hindrance in the community of academic excellence.
For more than 20 years, Mrs. Hamilton enjoyed a career in public relations for SC Johnson, where she focused on internal communications, speech writing, special event planning, and serving as an agent of change. In 1989, the company recognized her for leadership in community relations with the H.F. Johnson Community Service Award.
Mrs. Hamilton’s late husband, Larry, taught psychology at Carthage for 36 years and received the College’s first Distinguished Teaching Award. After his death in 1997, Mrs. Hamilton retired to the mountains of Colorado, where she and her husband, Bill Freund, enjoy the beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities found just outside their door.
In the solitude of her mountain community, she also finds the space necessary to pursue a writing career. Her award-winning biography delved into the life and work of an uncle, the late Theodore Czebotar, an accomplished 20th century artist.
Mrs. Hamilton is working on a novel — one set in a small Midwest college community that hugs the shore of Lake Michigan. Mrs. Hamilton credits the bright and inquisitive people of Carthage for helping her to find her own path.
Tom Lentz ’63
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Carthage honors Trustee Emeritus Tom Lentz with the Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Service Award.
Mr. Lentz joined the Carthage Board of Trustees in 2002 and served four terms, earning emeritus status in May 2016. He contributed to several board committees and chaired the ad hoc committee that developed the College’s mission statement. His legacy of giving includes an endowed scholarship that encourages ethical business management.
As an undergraduate student at Carthage and, later, Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, Mr. Lentz participated in debate and choir. He was president of the Blue Key Honor Society chapter and vice president/academic chairman of his fraternity. Mr. Lentz went on to earn a master’s degree in ethics and philosophy from Yale University.
He became a Lutheran pastor, serving eight different churches in Ohio, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Miami. Mr. Lentz co-founded a publishing company that provided resources for churches and clergy, and another company that hosted tours of Europe and the Holy Land. Hired as president by a British electronics company, he worked to establish its U.S. division in Rockford, Illinois, and, after a merger, became chairman of Global Display Solutions in 2003.
His outside service activities have included a mission to Haiti, along with leadership and volunteer roles with various organizations in Lima, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. He and his wife, Martha, continue to volunteer in environmental efforts by planting sea oats on Gulf Bay shores and performing maintenance and cleanup at Fort DeSoto State Park.
Ann O’Leary ’14
Majors: Biology and Neuroscience
Hometown: Evansville, Wisconsin
In May 2016, Ann O’Leary won the right to serve as Alice in Dairyland, Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador.
Miss O’Leary graduated with All-College Honors and a degree in biology and neuroscience. She received the Distinguished Senior Award in 2014.
She was the lead student ambassador, president of the biology fraternity Beta Beta Beta, and an active member of Alpha Chi Omega. Serving her first term on the Alumni Council, she enjoys staying involved in the Carthage community.
After graduation, Miss O’Leary joined the corporate recruiting team at Epic, a healthcare software company. There, she focused on campus recruitment and college relations.
Inspired by her years of showing Jerseys and Holsteins at the county, district, and state levels, Miss O’Leary applied to become the 69th Alice in Dairyland. Miss O’Leary was selected and started her one-year contract position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in June 2016.
By the end of her year as Alice, she will have traveled 40,000 miles across the state to promote all aspects of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agricultural industry via television and radio interviews, public appearances, and fourth-grade classroom visits.
Afterward, Miss O’Leary hopes to pursue a career in public relations or communication. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, golf, water skiing, and spending time with family.