Photo collage of the recipients of the Saint Martin's University 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards
December 17, 2019

LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University is announcing the eight recipients of its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which will be presented during Homecoming festivities on Saturday, February 8, 2020. Honorees are John Carr ’59; Lt. Gen. Michael Canavan ’78, U.S. Army, retired; John Farrell ’66; Martie Moore ’92; the Nuns of Saint Gertrude’s Monastery; Dennis Reynolds ’69, posthumous; Don Robbins HS’50, ’54, ’84; and Vince Strojan ’68.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni represent a diverse group of individuals who are being recognized for their outstanding leadership and many accomplishments,” said Cecelia Loveless, vice president for institutional advancement. “They embody the values of Saint Martin’s University through their actions and achievements, and it is an honor to celebrate each of them."

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 their community, professional achievement or service to Saint Martin’s University. Here are some highlights about each of this year’s award recipients:

John Carr ’59

John Carr ’59 is being recognized for his Service to Saint Martin’s. Carr graduated from Saint Martin’s College as class valedictorian with a B.S. degree in Chemistry. He was a member of the basketball team, serving as captain in his junior and senior seasons. He was also recognized in the 1959 edition of Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. Following his graduation from Saint Martin's, Carr went on to earn his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Washington in 1963, followed by post-doctoral studies at the University of Kansas. After completing his post-doctoral work, Carr spent over two decades employed by Shell Development and Shell Chemical in research, research management and business positions. From 1986-1993, Carr was employed by the DuPont Company in research management positions retiring in 1993. In 2009, Carr began to renew his relationship with Saint Martin’s through involvement in his 50th class reunion. Carr was inducted into the Saint Martin’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. He co-chaired the Saint Martin’s University Science Initiative, which culminated in the building of the Ernsdorff Science Center. In 2015, Carr was elected to the Saint Martin's University Board of Trustees, and is currently serving as vice chair of the Governance Committee and as a member of the Institutional Advancement Committee. In 1960, he married Mary Helen (VanDerhoef) Carr. They have four children and seven grandchildren. The Carrs reside in Delaware, making the cross country trip four times a year for University events and Board of Trustee meetings.

Lt. Gen. Michael Canavan ’78, U.S. Army, retired

Lieutenant General Michael A. Canavan ’78 is being recognized for his Professional Achievement. General Canavan attended Saint Martin’s through the U.S. Army’s Degree Completion Program. General Canavan enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966, initially as a Combat Engineer. He was later commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the Infantry Officers Candidate School. Canavan has held a variety of command and staff positions. As a Company Grade officer he commanded three Special Forces “A” Teams, a Special Forces Company, a Headquarters Company and an Infantry Company. As a Field Grade officer he commanded both an Infantry Battalion and Infantry Brigade. His General Officer commands included Commanding General, TRADOC Analysis Command, Assistant Division Commander, 82nd Airborne Division, CG, Special Operations Command, Europe and CG, Joint Special Operations Command. His final assignment was as Chief of Staff, European Command. His combat and contingency operations included Vietnam, Grenada, Northern Iraq, Bosnia, Liberia and Kosovo. His other overseas assignments included Germany, Thailand and the Republic of Korea. Among his many awards and decorations are the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist Wings, Ranger and Special Forces Tab, Pathfinder Badge, Military Freefall badge and Combat Diver badge. Canavan retired from active duty on January 1, 2001. He is married to retired U.S. Ambassador Katherine Canavan and they have three children and four grandchildren. Canavan and his wife reside on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

John Farrell ’66

John Farrell ’66 is being recognized for his Professional Achievement. Farrell earned an English degree from Saint Martin’s College and was very involved in the music department. Farrell sang in the Glee Club with beloved mentor Fr. Eugene, and was a member of a Saint Martin’s student band labeled Young Set. After graduation, he married Margaret McNamar and the pair started a twelve-year career with Saga Food Service, traveling from Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington (Spokane) and even Hawaii. He and his wife have four daughters, all of whom have been involved in the family businesses. In 1979, Farrell moved the family back to his hometown of Tacoma where, in 1983, he opened his first restaurant, Huckleberry Inn, in Key Center. They then got involved in concepts like Engine House #9 in Tacoma, John’s Restaurants in Gig Harbor and Lakewood, and the Hob Nob Restaurant in Tacoma. In 1995, Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza opened in Lacey and was a success from the beginning. From that original crew, three are now the backbone of the company and have helped push the restaurant into a chain of nine restaurants employing over 400 people. All four daughters now live within an hour of the Farrell’s home on Lake Tapps and have given Farrell and his wife seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Martie Moore ’92

Martie Moore ’92 is being recognized for her Professional Achievement. Moore is a certified professional in healthcare quality, serves for ContinuumXR as chair of the Clinical Advisory Board, serves on the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF), and the Dean’s Advisory Board for the University of Central Florida College of Nursing, and is the chairperson for the Patient Safety Movement’s Falls & Fall Prevention. Moore is currently an Executive Consultant for Medline Industries, Inc. Prior to Medline, Moore was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Central in Portland, Oregon where she led the facility through its third and fourth Magnet designations. Moore has served as an adjunct faculty member at several universities, most recently at George Fox University in the Healthcare Administration Program. She also gives presentations on transforming healthcare nationally and internationally. In 2019, she was awarded a patent for a weight scale and corresponding systems and methods that would help prevent the advancement of congestive heart failure. Moore was honored with an honorary doctorate degree from Saint Martin’s University for her contributions in advancing healthcare and nursing in 2019. 

The Nuns of Saint Gertrude’s Monastery

The Nuns of the Monastery of St. Gertrude are being recognized for their Benedictine Service to Saint Martin’s. In May 1904, Saint Martin’s was blessed with the services of three Benedictine sisters from Saint Gertrude’s Convent in Cottonwood, Idaho who would be in charge of running the kitchens. Mother Joanna, Sister Meinrada, and Sister Walburga were housed in the all-purpose College building that had once been accommodating lay brothers and workers. The three sisters became quite popular, taking up mending and sewing for the students and monks. The sisters would play an integral role at Saint Martin’s for the next half century. In April 1958, the prioress of the Benedictine sisters of Saint Gertrude’s Convent notified Abbot Raphael Heider, O.S.B. that she would be withdrawing the sisters from Saint Martin’s culinary and sewing departments. The sisters were called back to be reassigned to schools and hospitals closer to home. The sisters left Lacey on June 15, 1959 on the Saint Martin’s bus. Though the sisters left, the relationship has remained strong in decades since. Several sisters have attended classes at Saint Martin’s, receiving degrees in education and teaching. Two of these sisters, Sister Clarissa Goeckner and Sister Mary Marge Goeckner both graduated from Saint Martin’s in the 60’s. Saint Martin’s Benedictine Scholars, under Fr. Kilian’s guidance, have taken several trips to visit the sisters. The students lived in their guest home; joined the sisters for morning, noon and night prayer and for meals; and worked in the gardens. The Sisters of Saint Gertrude are the epitome of Benedictine Service to Saint Martin’s and we will be forever grateful for the relationship we have built with the Sisters. 

Dennis Reynolds ’69 (posthumously)

Dennis Reynolds ’69 is being posthumously recognized for his Professional Achievement. Reynolds graduated from Port Angeles High School in 1965. At Saint Martin’s he played varsity baseball, worked as the sports publicity manager and graduated as class valedictorian, earning a degree in government in 1969. In May 1969, he married fellow Saint Martin’s alum, Tedi Johnson; the pair recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Upon graduating from Saint Martin’s, Reynolds obtained his Juris Doctorate from University of Washington Law School in 1972 and began his career with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office in Olympia. From 1985 to 2008, Reynolds was a partner in several major Seattle law firms before he opened his solo practice, Dennis D. Reynolds Law Office, on Bainbridge Island. In his 47 years representing both the public and private sectors worked on many important government regulatory issues including Hanford and Satsop nuclear power plants, Northern Tier and Trans Mountain pipeline proposals, Boldt Indian fishing rights decision, Salmon For All, Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation, Growth Management Hearings Board appeals, Critical Areas Ordinance and Shoreline Master Program challenges, and the permitting of the new Paine Field International Airport. He authored the Mining Laws update of the Washington Real Property Deskbook in 2001 and 2012. Reynolds was also an adjunct professor at Saint Martin's and served on the Board of the Alumni Association in the mid-70’s. The Reynolds established a scholarship fund in 2012 to support Saint Martin’s students planning to study law. Over the years, they have donated generously to Saint Martin’s and other local and regional organizations. Reynolds is remembered by friends, colleagues and family as being tirelessly available to support the people and issues for which he cared deeply.

Don Robbins HS’50, ’54, ’84

Don Robbins HS’50, ’54, ’84 is being recognized for his Service to Saint Martin’s. Robbins’ grandfather, Frank Robbins, settled on a property adjacent to the University in 1902. Robbins was raised on this property and became a life-long neighbor, student and friend to Saint Martin’s. Growing up, he frequently served at daily mass and attended Saint Martin’s baseball, football, track and basketball events with his siblings. When Robbins reached high school age, he enrolled at Saint Martin’s and worked all four years in their gardens and on their farm to pay for his tuition. After high school he continued his work to help pay for his college tuition. Robbins earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1954. Robbins chose to make a 20 year career of serving his country in the Army and received a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. Though his duties called him overseas (one tour to Iceland and two to Vietnam), he remained a neighbor to Saint Martin’s. When Robbins retired from military service, he returned to Saint Martin’s in 1984 to earn a bachelor’s degree in community service. This prepared him for his new career as a Thurston County Sheriff’s Deputy. After he retired a second time in September 1992, he became a member of the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association, volunteered at the Capitol Food and Wine Festival, served in the hamburger wagon, and helped lay the sod for the baseball field on Saint Martin’s campus. He would later have a son, two daughter-in-laws, and two grandchildren attend Saint Martin’s as well. Robbins is very involved with the Knights of Columbus; has been a part of the Bernie Tourney for many years; and remains an avid fan and supporter of Saint Martin’s athletics.

Vince Strojan ’68

Vince Strojan ’68 is being recognized for his Service to Saint Martin’s. Strojan graduated from Fife High School in 1964 and followed older brother Steve to Saint Martin’s College. At Saint Martin’s, Strojan began his basketball career as a Ranger under Coach Jerry Vermillion. In Strojan’s senior season, he set three college scoring records with 600 total points in the 1967-68 season and 1,736 career points, breaking the previous record of 1,235. He was named to the NAIA District I All-Star team, and chosen as the team’s MVP and co-captain. He was drafted by the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association, but played briefly for the Seattle SuperSonics. He was inducted into Saint Martin’s Hall of Fame in 1992. Outside of his successful career on the court, he was a family man first and a business man second. He has been married to Sandy for 52 years and they have four grown sons. The pair also fostered over 50 children and adopted two. His career achievements include owning and operating Evergreen Paper Company from 1980-2016. Strojan was critical in creating the Fr. Kilian Malvey Endowment Scholarship as well as the Jerry Vermillion Endowment Scholarship. Strojan hosted fundraising parties, chaired several event committees, and supported Fr. Kilian on his milestone birthdays and on the anniversary of his vows. Strojan’s commitment to Saint Martin’s and the Benedictine values have led to generations of affordable education because of the scholarship endowments he has chaired and supported.

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 13 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 29 majors, 11 graduate programs and five certificate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 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:

Cecelia Loveless
Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Katie Wojke
Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications