ATCHISON, KAN. – Nearly 500 alumni of Benedictine College and its founding institutions, Mount St. Scholastica College and St. Benedict’s College, returned to Atchison for the annual Alumni Reunion June 12 – 14. The weekend featured the presentation of the Benet Awards, which date back to the founding institutions and honor prominent female and male alumni. This year, Lené Westerman of Plano, Texas, received the 2015 Offeramus Medal and Visitation parishioner Byron G. Thompson of Kansas City, Mo., received the 2015 Kansas Monk Award.
Thompson is currently the chairman of Country Club Bank, based in Kansas City, Mo. He was born in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1932 and attended St. Benedict’s College, now Benedictine College, where he was involved in much of campus life, serving as senior class president, working as editor-in-chief of the College newspaper, The Rambler, and participating in many other clubs and intramural sports. He graduated cum laude in 1955 with a Bachelor’s degree in economics. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and was the crew chief on a B-26. He is the father of 11 children … with collective education provided to them of 59 years beyond high school. He is also the grandfather of 47.
“This is an academic setting, that’s what this college is all about, and in an academic setting you’re taught to get those As and Bs, no Fs, no Fs. But tonight, I’m going to focus on Fs,” Thompson said in his moving acceptance speech. “I’ve had a Full life of Faith, Family, Friends, Fun. And what does education do except teach you ways to have a better Future? …And then it’s about Finish. Finish your life well. That’s the target. That’s what I hope I did. I love you all. Thank you.”
In 1969, Byron was one of the first laymen named to the Board of Directors at St. Benedict’s College and went on to serve on the founding board of Benedictine College. In 1976, Benedictine College bestowed upon him the prestigious Cross of the Order of St. Benedict for his leadership and generosity. At the 1997 Benedictine College Commencement Exercises, at which he was the keynote speaker, Byron was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. In 2002, he was co-chair of the 31st Annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball. Throughout the years, his gifts have impacted scholarships, athletics, and many capital campaigns. An alumnus, community leader, veteran, businessman, and devoted family man, he truly models the Benedictine values of “prayer and work.”
Thompson’s other civic activities include being a charter member of the Board of Trustees of Rockhurst College; member of the Board of Directors of Benedictine College; and member of the Board of Trustees at Midwest Research Institute. He’s also been a past member of the Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank, 10th District; the Investment Advisory Committee for the Endowment Fund of Union Station; the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth, KS; Prairie Village’s Kansas Development Corporation; the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Greater Kansas City; and director of St. Joseph Hospital and Carondelet Health Corporation.
He has been an investment banker for over 60 years, 29 years at United Missouri Bank of Kansas City, serving as vice chairman in charge of Investment Banking, and over 25 years at Country Club Bank. He has also been a major investor in various banks in Missouri and Kansas and has served in several banking associations.
Byron has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kansas City Spirit Award; the 2000 Van Ackeren Spirit Award; the Broderick Award; the 2006 Ethics in Business Award and he has been inducted into the Kansas City Business Hall of Fame.
St. Benedict’s College, which joined with Mount St. Scholastica College in 1971 to form Benedictine College, established the Kansas Monk Award in 1960 for alumni who had distinguished themselves in their profession, showed a prominence of service to the civic community, demonstrated outstanding loyalty to the alma mater, and reflected honor on the college through family and social life. Mount St. Scholastica had established the corresponding Offeramus Medal in 1957.