The Alumni Medallion

Posted August 01, 2003

The highest honor K-State bestows on its graduates is the Alumni Medallion, presented during spring commencement ceremonies. Karen Larson Milner Graves '58, St. Joseph, Mo., and Richard W. "Dick" Dodderidge '47, Venice, Fla., were the recipients of the 2003 medallions. The award recognizes lifetime professional and humanitarian service, said Amy Button Renz '76, '86, president of the K-State Alumni Association, the coordinator of the award. Graves and Dodderidge received the honor during their respective colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences graduation exercises on May 17. A total of 49 medallions have been bestowed since the program began in 1969.

Karen Larson Milner Graves, St. Joseph, Mo., earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1958. She quickly devoted herself to public and community service. Politicians, journalists, business leaders and bankers alike have said she has been a beacon of light and motivation to the cities of Salina, Kan., and St. Joseph.

Former editor of the St. Joseph News-Press Bob Slater said, "Karen has been the brightest star in St. Joseph during the last decade. As a leader or a supporter of good causes, Karen is known for her commitment, her dedication and her unwavering support for many worthwhile projects.

Even though Graves and her husband, attorney James T. Graves, have only lived in the Missouri city since 1992, Slater's assessment also could be applied to her decades of service to the citizens of Salina and the state of Kansas. Her life's dedication to service stems from Graves' interest in government, economic development and the arts.

Two popular activities Graves founded are the Trails West! festival in St. Joseph in 1993 and the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, which was part of the city's Bicentennial celebration in 1976.

Former St. Joseph Mayor Larry R. Stobbs said she has played an active leadership role in many different aspects of the community. For example, Graves served as president of the Neighborhood Partnership, a 48-square-block revitalization effort in Patee Town, an older neighborhood in which eight of the city's 11 museums are located. This project helped St. Joseph win All-America City status in 1997.

In Salina, Graves served as co-chair of the successful bond issue campaign to build the Bicentennial Center in 1976. During her two terms on the Salina City Commission, she became the city's first woman mayor. Graves was an integral player in the merger of Kansas College of Technology with K-State.

Not only did she prove to be successful in campaign for bond and tax initiatives, she also served on election campaigns for governors Bob Bennett and Bill Graves and Senator Bob Dole.

At K-State, Graves was elected to the K-State Alumni Association board of directors and held the office of secretary. She also served on the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees. Her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, presented Graves with its 1998 Crest Award, one of its highest national alumnae honors. The nominators said of Graves, "she dreams dreams at which others might scoff, and then turns those dreams into reality."

A native of Belleville, Kan., Graves and her husband have two daughters, Leslie and Amy. A third daughter, Sarah, is deceased.

Richard W. "Dick" Dodderidge, Venice, Fla., joined the Brewer Advertising Agency in Kansas City shortly after earning a bachelor's degree in industrial journalism in 1947. He remained with the firm for 35 years.

He started as a junior copywriter and advanced to television production manager, account manager, vice president, executive vice president and finally to president and CEO in 1972. In 1974, Young and Rubicam of New York, one of the world's five largest ad agencies, acquired the agency. Dodderidge served as president and CEO of the Brewer Division of Y&R until 1982.

The measure of success in advertising is the amount of sales produced for the client. Dodderidge's agency campaign, "Life Insurance at Jack Benny Prices!" was one of the most successful ad campaigns of its day for an Iowa insurance company. Dodderidge and comedian Jack Benny worked together and became close friends.

By 1979, Brewer was ranked third in the nation among ad agencies with major agricultural clients. Along with the success of its ag clients, Brewer's other clients included Toastmaster Home Appliances, Beech Aircraft Corp., Hallmark's Crown Center and Thrifty Rent-A-Car. With Dodderidge as CEO, Brewer's annual sales nearly tripled, from $11 million in 1972 to $31 million in 1978.

After leaving advertising, Dodderidge entered a new career in motion picture marketing. Kansas City's American Multi Cinema (AMC) hired him as senior vice president to develop and manage corporate marketing.

Dodderidge's professional experience in marketing was a natural complement to the many philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in which he participated. Through his leadership in Rotary International, Dodderidge raised funds and organized humanitarian efforts to aid children's hospitals. His 38-year Rotary career has included service projects in South Africa, Russia and India, and leadership of educational exchanges to England, New Zealand, Switzerland and Brazil. He assisted in the formation of Rotary Club in St. Petersburg in Russia.

In 1986, Dodderidge was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents, and, as chairman in 1988-1989, he championed the Margin of Excellence, a legislative funding package to aid public higher education in Kansas.

During his days at K-State, Dodderidge was active in Sigma Nu fraternity, and he continues his lifelong commitment as a board member on the fraternity's educational foundation. Since 1980, he has been a KSU Foundation trustee.

Dodderidge was raised in Council Grove, Kan., by parents who themselves were K-State alumni. He and his wife Ann have three sons: Richard; John, a 1980 K-State graduate; and Daniel.

"K-State has been an important part of the Dodderidge family for nearly 100 years," said son John Dodderidge. "As a third-generation K-Stater, I have seen my father devote time and energy to help make K-State a better place."