Photo collage of the recipients of the Saint Martin's University 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards
December 4, 2017

Saint Martin's University announces the recipients of its 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards. 

LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University is announcing the seven recipients of its 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which will be presented during Homecoming festivities on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Honorees are Tom Barte ’68, of Lacey, WA; George A. Parker ‘71, Ph.D., of Shoreline, WA; Christine Schaller ’93, of Tacoma, WA; Fr. George Seidel, O.S.B. HS'50, '55, of Lacey, WA; Perry Shea ’84, of Tenino, WA; John Spiller Sr., HS’24,’26, posthumous; and, Christopher Thomsen ’80, of Port Angeles, WA.

These alumni have a lifetime of achievements: personally, professionally and with Saint Martin’s University. The University formally began recognizing its notable alumni in the early 1980s. Recipients were selected from nominations based on service to his or her community, professional achievement or service to Saint Martin’s University. Here are some highlights about each of this year’s award recipients:

Tom Barte ’68

Barte is being recognized for his years of service to Saint Martin’s University. He has been a member of the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association for more than 20 years and served a term as president. Throughout this time, he has also been involved with the Capital Food and Wine Festival as a deputy director, wine and sponsorship committee chair, and general volunteer. Barte has also been a part of the concessions trailer at Lakefair and other local events. Barte is a fixture on campus, visiting almost daily. After retiring, he took a part-time job driving for Saint Martin’s athletic teams, international programs and other student groups. During his time shuttling students, coaches, faculty and staff to and from destinations, Barte has become an ambassador for alumni relations. He has even been known to spend his vacation time meeting with potential students and their families to help admissions with recruiting efforts.

George A. Parker ‘71, Ph.D.

Parker is being recognized for his professional achievements. He is a technical fellow, technical lead engineer and Boeing designated expert at The Boeing Company. In this position he leads and interfaces with 20 engineers, scientists and technical technicians to solve production material problems, research new materials, and perform failure analysis support and investigative analysis in support of the National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition, Parker has written and developed the Boeing – Edmonds Community College educational experiential learning exposure internship program which has been successful in replacing the maturing technical technician workforce at Boeing. Besides his professional career, Parker is active in mentoring and coaching young engineers and scientists and working with various science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach programs. He has also been an assistant basketball coach at Seattle Pacific University for more than 30 years. Moreover, Parker serves his community through his church by working with youth and young adults and he serves on a number of professional and nonprofit boards.

Christine Schaller ’93

Schaller is being recognized for her professional achievements. Schaller was elected to the Thurston County Superior Court in 2012. She currently serves at Family and Juvenile Court, hearing all types of family law matters, as well as juvenile offender and dependency cases, and while at Family and Juvenile Court, Schaller served as the chief judge for two years. In January 2018, Schaller will preside over criminal and civil trials and serve as the presiding judge for the Thurston County Superior Court. Prior to her election, Schaller served for almost eight years as a Family and Juvenile Court commissioner for Thurston County Superior Court. In 2009, Schaller was named “Jurist of the Year” by the Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section. Schaller is also active in the community.  She has served in leadership roles with the Thurston County Bar Association, Washington Women Lawyers Capitol Chapter and Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services. In the greater Thurston County community, she has served on community boards including the Child Care Action Council, Saint Martin’s Alumni Association and United Community Aids Network.  She is also active with the Thurston County Relay for Life as both a participant and a previous team captain. She especially enjoys opportunities to work with youth by volunteering as a judge for the YMCA annual Mock Trial Competition and speaking to students on Law Day or with Street Law classes.

Fr. George Seidel, O.S.B. HS'50, '55

Fr. George is being recognized for his Benedictine service. He has dedicated his life to service for approximately 70 years as a member of the Saint Martin’s Abbey and as a faculty member at Saint Martin’s University, where he has taught a variety of philosophy courses since 1962. He is a leader in his field and is well published. Fr. George has also served both organizations as a member of the Board of Trustees for numerous terms. In his downtime, you can find Fr. George playing the piano at a variety of functions.

Perry Shea ’84

Shea is being recognized for his service to community. He is a co-founder and president of SCJ Alliance, a nationally recognized, multidisciplinary consulting firm specializing in civil engineering, transportation planning and design, environmental and urban planning, landscape architecture and design, and public outreach. Since its inception in 2006 with three people, SCJ has grown to 85 employees. Community service has been one of Shea’s priorities throughout his career, and giving back to the community has become a hallmark of the SCJ company culture. Shea is the current chairman of the board for the Thurston County Economic Development Council, and a long-time board member and volunteer. He served on the Tenino school board for 10 years, and is a current member of the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation board. The SCJ team, led by Shea’s example, has supported dozens of nonprofits with volunteer hours and financial donations in the communities in which its employees live and work.

John Spiller Sr., HS’24,’26

Spiller is being recognized posthumously for his service to Saint Martin’s. He spent his career as an attorney, and while in private practice in Seattle, Spiller provided legal counsel to the Washington State Legislature, Saint Martin’s College (now University), the Archdiocese of Seattle and Catholic Charities, in addition to his firm’s clients. Spiller and former Washington State Attorney General, Smith Troy, were instrumental in the 1954 legal battle to keep the state capital in Olympia. Spiller also worked tirelessly in condemnation law as Interstate 5 made its way south to Thurston County, resulting in substantial land acquisition, which greatly impacted the Saint Martin’s Abbey property. Spiller was a man of great faith, and was a dear friend of the monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey. He provided years of professional counsel to the Abbey and school, and was a frequent guest at the Abbey. Spiller passed away in 1981, and has three surviving children, two of whom are alumni.

Christopher Thomsen ’80

Thomsen is being recognized for his professional achievements. As vice president of business development for Kirby Lester Pharmacy Automation, Thomsen is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on healthcare‐related automation and technology. His is also the founder and president of The ThomsenGroup Inc., through which he provides expertise and consulting services for public, government and private sector healthcare and pharmacy operations. Thomsen has written and published numerous books and papers regarding comprehensive reviews and assessments of hospital, long-term care, outpatient, retail and mail-order pharmacy, and is a frequent keynote speaker for major pharmacy associations around the globe. Thomsen is a member of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Task Force on Automation and co-authored the NABP Model State Pharmacy Act and Model Rules in 1997 and has testified before numerous state congresses and the FDA regarding pharmaceutical regulations. In addition, he has been issued two US patents for his work on robotics and automated workflow systems, serves as a frequent guest lecturer at schools of pharmacy, provides expert witness services for pharmacy automation and technology-related cases, owns additional healthcare-related companies and continues to serve on numerous boards that benefit the industry.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

For additional information:

Katie Wojke
Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Kevin Hyde
Media Relations Manager