Class of 1964
Sallie Coffman is a well respected, accomplished and highly regarded musician. Known for her outstanding talent and work, she is greatly admired and respected. Her technique and musical artistry make her one of St. Louis’ most sought-after and popular musicians.
Coffman’s illustrious musical career began to take shape in the Ritenour School District. Those who grew up with her noted, “She knew she was going to be a violinist. All of Ritenour Junior High knew she was going to be a violinist.”
At Ritenour High School her talent began to flourish. Coffman was president of the orchestra and was named to the St. Louis All-Suburban Orchestra and the All-State Orchestra. After graduating in 1964, she began her formal music education at Washington University on a full scholarship.
At the age of 19, Coffman won an audition with the Denver Symphony and was named “outstanding new member.” She returned to St. Louis in 1968 and became principal violist with the St. Louis Muny Opera Orchestra. For the past 15 years, she has been First Chair and Concertmaster at the Muny, playing for some of the most important performers in musical theater.
Coffman is founder and lead violinist for the Laclede Quartet – known as one of the highest quality classical groups in St. Louis. For nearly 30 years the quartet has been omnipresent on the St. Louis music scene. Recordings of the Laclede Quartet’s instrumental music have been performed for official functions at the White House.
An accomplished instructor, Coffman’s teaching studio has flourished. She was named the 1996-1997 Missouri American String Teachers Association Artist Teacher of the Year. Her students have graduated from prestigious intuitions such as Juilliard in New York City and are now influential music teachers and musicians throughout the area.
Coffman regularly gives free concerts at schools and for the community through the Laclede Quartet. She also helps raise money for local schools and libraries and volunteers time at her church and at Delmar Gardens Nursing Center in O’Fallon, Mo.
Coffman resides in O’Fallon, Mo.
Dr. James G. Klarsch
Class of 1976
Dr. James G. Klarsch is greatly admired as a professional, a father and a role model. He is one of the most respected orthodontists in the region and is a renowned teacher, researcher, author and lecturer.
Dr. Klarsch is best described as serving his profession with honor, his community with distinction, his educational institutions with true dedication, his many patients with devotion and his family and friends with genuine love. It is said of Dr. Klarsch, “if more people were like Jim, the world would be a much better place.”
His experiences in Ritenour laid the groundwork for his remarkable career. He has practiced orthodontics in the St. Louis area for nearly 20 years. His practice is known for providing world-class orthodontic care for adults and children. He is also shaping the future of orthodontics as a member of the clinical faculty of Saint Louis University’s Department of Orthodontics. SLU’s orthodontic department is the largest and one of the most prestigious programs in the world.
Dr. Klarsch has contributed innumerable hours to a wide variety of organizations – including volunteering at the Cleft Palate Clinic at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. Through his work at the clinic, Dr. Klarsch has helped thousands of children with facial deformities and cleft palates, showing great compassion and love and making their lives better in the process. He also spends countless hours working with the Boy Scouts and volunteering his time for church and school activities.
A 1976 graduate of Ritenour High School, he excelled both inside and outside of the classroom before moving to the University of Missouri where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors. As a junior at Mizzou, he was selected for the prestigious Mystical Seven, an honor society selects the seven most outstanding men and women on campus on the basis of their community work and leadership ability. Dr. Klarsch attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Dentistry before completing his post-graduate education in orthodontics at Saint Louis University. He graduated at the top of his class at SLU and has been practicing orthodontics since 1988.
Dr. Klarsch, his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children, Mary, Austin and Daniel reside in Des Peres, Mo.
Lillie Sloan Thomas
Class of 1968
Anyone who has crossed paths with Lillie Sloan Thomas calls her “an inspiration.” Thomas is known for her leadership, compassion, work ethic, love for her job and willingness to help those in need. She has proven through hard work and self-perseverance that miracles can happen each and every day.
As Administrative Director of SSM St. Joseph Medical Park and St. Joseph Health Center Oncology Services/Radiation Services in St. Charles, Mo., Thomas works with cancer patients on a daily basis. A breast cancer survivor herself, Thomas is driven to make every cancer patient’s day better no matter what the odds. Thomas’ work with patients has become more heartfelt and compassionate after her personal battle with cancer.
When there are special events or fundraising efforts, Thomas is known to be the first to “raise her hand” to help the cause. As part of her community efforts, Thomas is one of the guiding stars for the St. Joseph Team in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure each year. Along with these efforts, she is also the chair of the St. Joseph Diversity Team and sits on the Diversity Council for the SSM Corporate Committee. An active volunteer at her church, Thomas was the first woman elected as chairperson of the trustee board for the New Sunny Mount Missionary Baptist Church in the city of St. Louis.
Thomas' commitment to the patients and employees of St. Joseph's has been shown over and over again through her daily work. Her employees know her as a great leader and a friend. She leads by example and shows those around her no task is impossible. Thomas finds the goodness in everyone and encourages all employees to dream big and expect nothing less than the best.
She began her career in 1970 as a Radiology technologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. In 1993, Thomas joined SSM Health Care and SSM St. Joseph Hospital West in St. Charles as Chief Technologist.
Thomas earned a bachelors degree from National Louis University and an associate degree from Forest Park Community College. She resides in St. Louis.
Major General Walter E. Webb III
Class of 1956
Major General Walter E. Webb III had an extraordinary 31-year career in the United States Air Force. A command pilot with more than 4,700 flying hours, Webb earned scores of decorations, honors and awards. His contributions to the national security of our country were remarkable.
During his illustrious career, Webb received numerous honors, including two Distinguished Flying Cross Awards. The prestigious award was established in 1926 and is for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must be evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty and must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to set the individual apart from his/her comrade.” The first recipient of the honor was Charles A. Lindbergh; later recipients included Orville and Wilber Wright. Webb also received the Legion of Merit Award, an honor for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in performance of outstanding service to the United States.”
Born in St. Louis, Webb graduated from Ritenour High School in 1956. He was always inspired by military service. The 1956 Melaureus lists the Armed Forces Club as one of his many school activities. Webb earned an undergraduate degree from The Citadel Military College in South Carolina in 1960 and a graduate degree from Central Michigan University in 1976. He was a distinguished graduate of the Air War College in 1978.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Webb entered active duty in 1960. His military career then took him across the United States and the around the world. In Vietnam, he served a 12-month tour as a gunship commander. He was promoted to Major General on Aug. 1, 1988.
Webb retired in 1991 after serving as director for operations for the Defense Nuclear Agency in Washington, D.C. In retirement, Webb continued to serve his community by working with the First Command Financial Services, helping widows and children of servicemen who were facing insurmountable financial problems.
Webb passed away Feb. 7, 1998. He is survived by his wife, Connie, of Midwest City, Okla., daughter Stephanee and granddaughter Katie Snell.