Class of 1939
David Bell is a man of service. The 1939 Ritenour graduate, has dedicated his time and energy to the United States Air Force, the local community and charities throughout the country.
Between 1942 and 1971, Bell served in the U.S. Air Force and the Missouri Air National Guard. Among other duties as Lieutenant Colonel Mobility Officer for the guard, Bell directed the movement of the Missouri 131st Tactical Fighter Wing from St. Louis to France during the “Berlin Crisis.” He retired from the military with more than 29 years of service.
Bell continued to serve the country as a civilian employed by the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command in St. Louis. He was technician and principal writer of a series of technical manuals about Army aircraft and aviation equipment. He designed cradles, supports, slings, hoists and waterproof covers used in the shipment of aircraft.
In 1971, Bell was selected to help coordinate the Combined Federal Campaign, a federal employee fundraising drive that benefits nonprofit organizations. His first year involved, Bell tripled federal worker participation and donations. Under his leadership, this trend continued for the next five years. Bell was named the “Outstanding Federal Employee” in 1975 in the category of Management and Administration.
Bell has also served as Trustee of the Village of Sycamore Hills, an adult leader for various Boy Scout troops, and in many positions for Stephan Memorial United Methodist Church. He’s been an active member of the Ritenour community, serving on the Board of Education and parent teacher associations.
Bell and his wife, Laura Jeane, live in Overland. They have nine children, all graduates of Ritenour High School.
Class of 1977
Barry Cooper has been climbing the corporate ladder since graduating Ritenour High in 1977 and Southeast Missouri State University in 1981. The certified public accountant is now Chief Financial Officer for The Laclede Group/Laclede Gas Company, a company with $1 billion in assets.
Cooper started his climb at KPMG, a big four accounting firm. His customer service and negotiation skills quickly made him one of the top producers of new business for the company.
In 1995, Cooper began working at GenAmerica Corporation, a Fortune 500 provider of life and health insurance. When he left just last year, he was serving as a consultant to the Chief Executive Officer. A keen eye for improving efficiency, Cooper saved the company millions of dollars while improving the way GenAmerica did business.
Just last year, Cooper was named Chief Financial Officer of Laclede Gas Company.
The consummate professional never lost sight of what is truly important to him – his family. Cooper passed up a great opportunity at GenAmerica so that he wouldn’t have to uproot his family at a time when his daughters, Rachel and Lauren, were in high school.
In addition to his professional roles, Cooper is also dedicated to his community, particularly to public education. A member of the Lindbergh Board of Education since 1999, he’s currently serving as board secretary. He’s also served as the board treasurer. Colleagues say Cooper keeps his children and community at the center of all he does. For more than 10 years, Cooper has been a member of the Arthritis Foundation’s local board of directors.
Cooper, and his wife, Denise, live in South St. Louis County.
Michael L. Ham
Class of 1962
For more than 20 years, Michael Ham has been giving the coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean an important gift – his voice.
The 1962 Ritenour graduate began his campaign in California where he lobbied for the protection of Malibu’s coastal resources. He then moved on to Guam, where he worked for and led the island’s Coastal Management Program.
Ham’s intimate knowledge of coastal Guam is expressed in the book he authored, “Guahan (Guam): The Fragile Gift.” Written in 1984, this book was used in Guam’s elementary schools to teach young students about the natural resources of their island. Ham is also the creator and host of his own monthly television series, Man, Land and Sea, which airs in Guam and Saipan.
Even after he retired from Guam’s government in 1999, Ham continued to promote the beauty and health of Pacific coasts as the program administrator of the Micronesia Conservation Society.
Just last February, Ham was appointed Executive Director for All Islands, Secretariat to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which is dedicated to protecting, restoring and responsibly using the country’s coral reefs.
Ham has shared his expertise with President Bill Clinton, the Secretary of the Interior, international committees and organizations and numerous local governments. In 1999, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force honored Ham for his dedication and leadership in local, regional and global coral reef protection.
Ham is also an artist, singer, musician and poet. He enjoys acting in community theaters and creating watercolors. The certified SCUBA diver has explored the reefs from Australia to Hawaii. Ham and his wife, Susan Marie, currently live in Honolulu. They have one son, Thomas CJ, who is attending the United States Naval Academy.
Class of 1959
Ronald Hunt was a leader in baseball even as a student at Ritenour High School in the late ’50s. Today, the former major league player continues to provide leadership by coaching high school baseball players in his summer program.
Fresh out of high school in 1959, Hunt was signed with the Milwaukee Braves and was in their minor league system for three and a half years. The New York Mets bought his contract in 1962, and he played second base for the Mets until 1966. He’s also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the Montreal Expos.
A team player, Hunt set a standing National League record for being hit by a pitch 243 times. In his 12-year career, he had a .273 batting average and a .347 on-base percentage.
In 1986, Hunt started the Ron Hunt Eagles Baseball Association. Each summer, about 20 players from across the country travel to Hunt’s facility in Wentzville to spend the summer improving their game through practice and hard work. Players age 14-18 live in a dorm on the property where they also learn independence and how to “keep house.”
Hunt stresses discipline and learning the fundamentals of baseball. He’s known for being demanding and honest, sometimes brutally honest, with his players. Of Hunt’s Eagles, 95 percent have received college scholarships, and nine have been drafted.
Hunt and his wife, Jackie (known as “camp mom”), live on the property they share with the Eagles Baseball Association. Hunt also raises cattle, farms and is an avid outdoorsman.