Ritenour Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inducted on Sept. 15
Three outstanding Ritenour alumni and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient were inducted into the Ritenour Hall of Fame during a special ceremony on Friday, Sept. 15 at Ritenour Auditorium. View photos from the event.
The 2023 inductees are:
- Charla Lord, Class of 1981, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and renowned communications professional.
- Rev. Dr. William Yancey, Class of 1964, a revered minister in the St. Louis region.
- Larry Zigler, Class of 1968, a highly-decorated U.S. Marine who served in the Vietnam War.
- Dr. Martha Ackmann, Lifetime Achievement Award, a nationally-recognized journalist and author who founded Missouri’s first student-run high school radio station, KRHS-FM, at Ritenour High School.
The Ritenour Hall of Fame was established in 1997 to honor graduates who have demonstrated outstanding professional accomplishments, civic involvement and community service. The portraits of the Hall of Fame members and Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are proudly displayed in the lobby of the Auditorium at Ritenour High School. Visit www.ritenourschools.org to view the complete list of Ritenour Hall of Famers.
Dr. Martha Ackmann
Dr. Martha Ackmann is a multi-talented educator, writer, and high school radio pioneer whose passion for storytelling extends far beyond the written word. As an award-winning author, her books have captivated readers, shedding light on the lives of extraordinary women and unveiling forgotten stories of history. Dr. Ackmann's legacy also includes her role as the visionary force behind KRSH, Ritenour High School’s legendary radio station. Through her dedication and innovative spirit, Dr. Ackmann has inspired a generation of Ritenour students.
Dr. Ackmann's remarkable journey as a journalism teacher and radio advisor began in 1973 at Ritenour High School, where she played a pivotal role in building the school's journalism program and establishing Missouri's first student-run high school radio station, KRSH-FM. KRSH made its debut on Nov. 7, 1977, boasting 10 watts of power. The station's setup resembled a professional operation, with two studios, a control room, newsroom, office and reception area. The radio station’s objective was twofold: to provide a community news, entertainment and education vehicle and to offer hands-on learning experience to Ritenour students.
Under Dr. Ackmann's guidance, the station grew from just broadcasting two hours a day to over seven hours daily, broadening its programming to cater to its student audience. KRSH was the first local high school station to offer the Associated Press service, cementing its reputation as a professional outlet. Dr. Ackmann also served as an advisor for the school's newspaper, The Pepper Box, the yearbook, Melaureus, and the literary magazine, Loquendus. Many of her former students went on to successful careers in journalism and media, making her impact on their lives truly exceptional.
The station's success and influence continued through the years, and KRSH evolved into KRHS, remaining a vital part of Ritenour High School's curriculum. With the addition of the Media Convergence Center, KRHS continues to provide a rich learning environment for students interested in radio, yearbook, newspaper, digital media and media convergence classes.
After leaving Ritenour High School in 1979, Dr. Ackmann went on to become a successful author and college professor. Dr. Ackmann’s lifelong work as an author and journalist has earned her numerous accolades, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Her expertise and engaging style have made her a sought-after public speaker, with invitations to address audiences at prestigious institutions like the Johnson Space Center and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One of her books inspired an award-winning Off Broadway play.
Beyond academia and literature, Dr. Ackmann's powerful storytelling has been featured on major media platforms like CNN, National Public Radio and the BBC. She has been a frequent commentator for New England Public Radio. She holds an undergraduate degree from Lindenwood College, a master’s from Middlebury College and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Dr. Ackmann’s students, colleagues, and readers continue to be inspired by her work, and she remains a cherished figure in the hearts of many Ritenour alumni. We are proud to welcome Dr. Martha Ackmann as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for the Ritenour Hall of Fame.
Class of 1981
Charla Lord stands out as a shining example of achievement and dedication. Fueled by her deep passion for journalism, she has left a lasting mark on the fields of media and corporate communications. She has built a successful career as a writer, producer and communications professional, showcasing her talents and achieving notable milestones along the way.
Lord graduated from Ritenour High School in 1981, where she excelled both academically and in extracurricular activities. Her high school years were filled with academic achievements and success with the girls' basketball team, the tennis team, the marching band, jazz and concert bands, orchestra, and membership in the National Honor Society. Additionally, she made her mark as a regular contributor to KRSH 90.1 FM radio, showcasing her diverse talents and love for media.
Following her graduation, Lord attended the University of Missouri–Columbia where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and the University of Missouri–St. Louis where she earned a master’s degree in political science.
Her professional career began in 1985 when she was hired by KMOX-TV (later renamed KMOV-TV) in St. Louis. Over the course of her 21-year tenure at Channel 4, Lord showcased her versatility by working as a writer, an assignment desk manager, and segment and line producer. Her talent and dedication were particularly evident during her time as an investigative news writer and producer from 1988 to 1995, which led to three prestigious Emmy Awards for her outstanding work.
In 2006, Lord embarked on a new chapter in her career by accepting the position of Director of Communications at the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis. During her seven-year tenure at Webster, Lord ensured effective messaging and stakeholder engagement by spearheading numerous local and international communication strategies and high-level events, including St. Louis native Jack Dorsey’s return to his hometown and first “Tweet Up” after founding the social media platform Twitter.
In 2013, Lord joined the Monsanto Company in St. Louis as Corporate Communications Manager. Within a year of her tenure, the company promoted Lord to the role of Senior Manager of Media Communications for Issues Management, where she continued to excel byleveraging her expertise to handle local, national and global media inquiries, crisis communications and reputation management. Following Monsanto’s sale to Bayer Corporation, Lord was named the crop science breeding division’s Head of Science and Community Engagement.
Lord’s remarkable career accomplishments are only part of her story. In her personal life, she is a loving and devoted mother to her children, Brennan and Hanna. Beyond her family, she actively contributes to her community through involvement with Kirkwood United Methodist Church, Kirkwood Women's Tennis Association, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Kirkwood High School’s Pioneer Pride Marching Band. Her dedication to community service reflects her genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Lord's journey from Ritenour High School to a successful career in media and corporate communications serves as an inspiration to many. Her induction into the Ritenour Hall of Fame is a well-deserved recognition of her exceptional contributions and the positive influence she has made in the community.
Rev. Dr. William Yancey
Class of 1964
From his impressive high school career to his lifelong commitment to service and inclusivity, Dr. Yancey has made a lasting impact on his community and beyond.
During his time at Ritenour High School, Dr. Yancey, class of 1964, excelled both academically and athletically. He was a standout player in varsity football, basketball and baseball. He held leadership positions in various student organizations, including serving as the vice president of the student council and president of the Lettermen's Club. His ambition and drive were recognized by his peers when he was voted "Most Ambitious" in the student poll during his senior year.
After graduating from Ritenour, Dr. Yancey pursued higher education, earning a bachelor's degree in English and Education from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. During his time there, he continued his athletic pursuits, participating in varsity football and baseball. It was during this period that he discovered his true calling to the Lutheran Ministry.
Dr. Yancey was ordained into the ministry in 1984 and was called to serve as an education assistant at Bethel Lutheran Church in University City. He completed his Ph.D. in 1986 and became the pastor of Bethel two years later, where he dedicated himself to the congregation for 33 years. During his tenure, his inclusive approach helped the church flourish.
His leadership at Bethel focused on education, reflection and action, principles that he also applied to his involvement in the wider community. Dr. Yancey understood that religion is not merely about doctrine or belief systems, but about fostering relationships and nurturing shared cultural and social lives. His dedication to inclusivity is reflected in the Ritenour community today.
Dr. Yancey's impact extends beyond his role as a pastor. He has been involved in numerous community organizations and initiatives, championing causes such as racial equality, LGBTQ+ inclusion, environmental justice and support for vulnerable populations. He has supported the establishment of charitable institutions and served on various boards, including the Lutheran Housing Association and the Lutheran School of Theology in St. Louis.
Beyond his achievements, Dr. Yancey is known for his engaging smile, his welcoming heart and his ability to draw people into lives of service. His impact on the community has been immeasurable, and he has exemplified the values and purposes of the Ritenour Hall of Fame throughout his entire life.
Throughout his career, Dr. Yancey has exhibited humility, deflecting praise and redirecting focus to the achievements of his congregation and community. His quiet leadership has touched many lives, inspiring individuals to find deeper purpose and engage with the world's needs. He has always been working alongside others to make a difference.
In recognition of his lifelong dedication to leadership, service, and inclusivity, it is only fitting to honor Rev. Dr. William Yancey with induction into the Ritenour Hall of Fame. His inspiring story and remarkable contributions serve as a model for current and future students, encouraging them to embrace diverse paths and make a positive impact in their communities.
Class of 1968
Larry Zigler was a remarkable individual who left a lasting impact on his community and country. As a proud graduate of Ritenour High School's class of 1968, he embodied the spirit of a true Husky and excelled in various endeavors throughout his life.
During his time at Ritenour, Zigler was a member of both the varsity track and baseball teams, showcasing his athletic talents and dedication to teamwork. He demonstrated exceptional leadership skills as an editor of the Pepper Box newspaper and as an active member of the student council. His contributions to the school community earned him widespread respect and admiration from his peers.
Following his graduation, Zigler made a profound decision that would shape the course of his life. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, driven by a deep sense of duty and a desire to make a difference. Serving multiple tours of duty during the Vietnam War, Zigler displayed bravery and commitment to his fellow soldiers. He earned numerous accolades, including The Purple Heart for his acts of valor in combat. As a rifle expert and sniper, he exemplified the highest levels of skill and professionalism within the Marines.
Upon completing his military service with an honorable discharge, Zigler faced new challenges as he transitioned back to civilian life. Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the lasting effects of exposure to Agent Orange, he showed immense strength and resilience. Despite these hurdles, he successfully established his own business, Hair Designs by Z, which he operated for over 25 years.
Zigler’s love for his family and his country was unwavering. He cherished his role as a husband, father and brother, always striving to create a better life for his loved ones. Although deeply impacted by the Vietnam War, he focused on the future and embraced the joys of family life. His selfless nature and the love he shared with those closest to him left an indelible mark on their lives.
Tragically, Zigler passed away in October 2021, leaving behind cherished memories and a legacy of courage and perseverance. His loss is deeply felt, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him.
In recognition of Zigler's exceptional achievements and his profound impact on his community and country, it is with great honor and respect that we induct him into the Ritenour Hall of Fame. His story serves as an inspiration to future generations, reminding us of the strength of the human spirit and the enduring legacy of those who selflessly serve others.