Riverside Military Academy Notable Alumni

Riverside Military Academy has produced many notable alumni for over a century.  RMA alumni include athletes, inventors, actors, business owners, lawyers, and judges as well as many others who have gone on to accomplish great things.  If you know of others to be considered for inclusion, email alumni@riversidemiltary.com.

Criteria for Notable Alumni

 

Distinguished Alumni Awardees

 

*Distinguished Alumnus
**Distinguished Young Alumnus
♦Deceased

♦Peyton Anderson (1924) Owner and publisher of the Macon Telegraph and News for nearly 20 years.  He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII as a public relations officer and was later awarded a bronze star for his service.  Upon discharge from the Navy in 1945, he worked in Alabama as the publisher of the Gasden Times until returning to Macon in 1947.  He sold the Macon Telegraph and News in 1969 and retired to oversee his investments.  At his death in 1988 the majority of his fortune, approximately $35 million, went to the Peyton Anderson Foundation to be used for the benefit of Macon and middle Georgia.

Richard Aronson (1949) One of the nation’s leading authorities on gymnastics.  He has competed, coached and judged gymnastics at multiple levels.  He is the recipient of several awards including the College Athletic Hall of Fame and the Eastern Judges Hall of Fame. In addition to his awards, the College Gymnastics Association service award was renamed the “Richard Aronson Service Award.” He was inducted into the RMA Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

**Foster Bachschmidt (2006) Vice president and chief operating officer of D.A.B. Constructors, a central Florida firm specializing in public sector infrastructure construction. In 2011 he was appointed to the board of directors of the Florida Transportation Builder’s Association, the youngest sitting board member in the association’s 80-plus years. An avid pilot, he pursues competitive aerobatics and stunt flying, and in 2014 won the U.S. Aerobatic Championships in the advanced category, the youngest competitor to claim this achievement. He is a graduate of the University of Texas with a B.S. in civil engineering in 2010.  In 2015 he was chosen RMA’s Distinguished Young Alumnus.

John Douglas Bassett (1955) Third generation furniture industry executive. He started in the business while in high school before entering Riverside and has worked in various roles for over 53 years, first at Bassett Furniture Industries and since 1983 at Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company. John has been president and CEO and presently serves as Chairman of Vaughan-Bassett. He is the subject of the New York Times bestseller, Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – And Helped Save An American Town, published in 2014. He is also the author of Making It in America, published in 2016. Vaughan-Bassett is today the largest wooden bedroom furniture manufacturer in the United States with 100 percent of the products made in the United States. In October, 2013 he was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame, and in October, 2014 he was named Distinguished Alumnus of his college alma mater, Washington & Lee.

♦*John L. Beaver (1929)  The son of long time RMA President Sandy Beaver, John served RMA as a faculty member, superintendent, trustee and achieved significant growth of RMA’s financial resources in the latter role. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in WWII and was inducted posthumously into the National Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007 for athletic achievements at the University of Georgia.  Beaver was inducted into the RMA Sports Hall of Fame and named RMA Alumnus of the Century in 2007.

Gilbert M. Berg (1951) M/SGT (R).  Inducted as a distinguished honorary member of the 75th Ranger Regiment in 1999 and distinguished honorary member of the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2007 for a commendable 41- year military career.  Thirty four of those years, he directly impacted the United States Army Rangers, The Ranger Foundation, and the Ranger Community.  Berg is recognized for his dedication and devotion to the Rangers. 

*Errol John Bisso (1961) Spent over 50 years at RMA beginning as a cadet in 1955 and continuing through years of service as teacher, coach, registrar, and director of alumni relations. He was inducted into the RMA Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and was honored as Distinguished Alumnus at his 50th reunion in 2011. He is a member of the Northeast Georgia History Museum Sports Hall of Fame, the National Wrestling Coaches’ Hall of Fame, and the Delta State University Alumni Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

Marvin Black (1943) Operates one of the oldest camp organizations in the U.S. under continuous family ownership – Pine Forest Camp, Camp Timber Tops, and Lake Owego Camp in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.  He is a 1950 graduate of Temple University and was inducted into the Temple University Gallery of Success for the College of Health Professions and Social Work in 2012.

♦*Jerry B. Blackstock (1962) Trial lawyer in Atlanta for almost 40 years, Blackstock was named the 2002 recipient of the Georgia State Bar Tradition of Excellence Award and the Atlanta Bar Association’s Leadership Award in 2006. He was a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Georgia School Of Law. He was a member of the RMA Board of Trustees and its chairman from 2002 until his death in 2006.  He was the first recipient of the RMA Distinguished Alumnus award in 2002.

Norman P. Blake, Jr. (1960) Earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Purdue University in 1965 and 1966, respectively. Purdue University presented him with an honorary doctorate in economics in 1995.  He has served as CEO of three different Fortune 500 companies, including GE, Walter E. Heller & Company, USF&G, Promus Hotels Corporation, and the United States Olympic Committee.  Now retired, Blake currently serves on several boards, including the Owens Corning Corporation, Keraplast Technologies Inc., as well as the US Army War College.

**Arthur “Bubba” Maxwell Boisfontaine (1987) Of New Orleans is a founding partner of Crystal Clear Imaging (CCI), a 15-year-old signage company with offices in New Orleans, Atlanta, and San Francisco.  CCI is the official signage solutions partner for the New Orleans Saints and Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, and the Atlanta Falcons.  Arthur was named RMA’s first Distinguished Young Alumnus in 2012. 

♦*Bobby W. Bush (1949) Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke University, Bush spent his career with Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, the family business in Hickory, NC. Recognized for his devotion to the industry, he was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame in 1993.  He was RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2004.

Félix Arturo González Canto (1986) Former governor of Quintana Roo in Mexico, he was also the coordinator of advisors for the Center of Finance and Economics at the Institute, and also served as advisor to the president of CANACO on the subject of external commerce during the presidency of Victor Santin Padilla. Other elected positions include mayor of Cozumel from 1999-2002, federal representative of the 59th Legislature of Congress of the Union for District 1, Quintana Roo; secretary of the committee of tourism of the Chamber of Representatives of the Congress of the Union, and representative of Mexico before the Central American Parliament in 2004.

♦James Earl Carter, Sr. (1911) The father of U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Carlos Cervantes (1959) – Earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology and went on to a 32-year career with Arthur Anderson Worldwide (currently Accenture).  Twenty-three of those years were at the partner level.  He held leadership positions in the U.S., Brazil, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain, and Europe/Middle East/India and Africa.   Since retiring in 1997 he has served on the Riverside Board of Trustees, the South Carolina State Board of Education, the Education Leadership Council in Washington, D.C., and the National Association of State Boards of Education.  He served on Jeb Bush’s transition team for his second term as Governor of Florida as well as serving in the same capacity for Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

♦Lucius Chappell (1923) Graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1927.  He was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy in WWII and was presented the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Sculpin submarine in 1942.  In that same year, he was also presented a Gold Star in lieu of a second award of the Navy Cross and in 1945 was presented the Legion of Merit.

♦Wade Denning (1939) Music writer, composer, and arranger of many familiar commercial songs and jingles including the Maxwell House song.

♦Leo “Bill” Disher (1928) Famed United Press WWII correspondent cited for heroic coverage of the Battle of Oran Harbor and chief of the United Press bureaus in Czechoslovakia and the Balkans.  He was a partner in establishing the magazine Discovery.

Pablo Espinosa (1987) Has worked as an actor for over 20 years in Los Angeles.  He has appeared in television dramas, movies, and feature films.  Some of his appearances include "Desperate Housewives", "24", "The Defender, NCIS: Los Angeles", "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "The General’s Daughter".  Pablo has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild for 22 years.

**Adam Frankel (2001) Partner with Greenwich Legal Associates, a boutique law firm in Greenwich, CT, focusing on class action/opt-out litigation in the anti-trust, commodities, securities, and consumer areas. He attended Drexel University and received his B.S. from the LeBow College of Business, magna cum laude, and his juris doctorate cum laude from Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School.  He was senior associate editor of the Thomas M Cooley Law Review. Frankel was recognized as the Distinguished Young Alumnus in 2016 and is one of the organizers of the RMA Business Council formed in 2017.

*Bernard M. Freeman (1958)   Purchased Steel-Fab Inc. in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1979 and became chairman, president and CEO from 1979 to 2007. Since 2007 he has been chairman and treasurer.  He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Engineering. He was awarded the RMA President’s Leadership Award in 2014, and he received Riverside's Distinguished Alumnus award in 2016.  He currently serves as vice chairman of the RMA Board of Trustees.

Bobby Greenwood (1957) Professional golfer and a PGA of America Life Member.  He played on the PGA tour for seven years (1969 through 1975).  He was inducted into the University of North Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.  In 2007, he was inducted as a charter member of the RMA Sports Hall of Fame.  Greenwood is now a golf course architect and resides in Cookeville, Tennessee. 

Paul A. Gross (1957) Retired from the health and hospital administration industry both as an executive with Humana Inc. and as a professor of health administration at the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Medical College of Virginia, and was honored with the Lifetime Service Award during the Paul A. Gross Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series.  He has served on the RMA Board of Trustees, including as chairman.

Kenneth I. Harms (1956) Served for 25 years with the City of Miami Police Department.  His courage, integrity, and devotion to the safety and security of the citizens of Miami led to his selection as Chief of the Miami Police Department in l978.  He held this position for six years. He was awarded the RMA President’s Leadership Award at Homecoming 2013.

♦*John W. Jacobs, Jr. (1940) Member of the group responsible for founding Gainesville, GA radio station WDUN.  He is responsible for bringing cable television to Gainesville, GA.  He acquired WCGA, Gainesville's oldest radio station and is the owner of Wide Travel travel agency and chairman of the family run business, Jacobs Media.  He and his wife Martha were named Gainesville's philanthropists of the year in 2010.  He served on the RMA Board of Trustees for 31 years and named RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2006.

John (Jack) Paul Jones (1938) Distinguished lawyer and journalist in Memphis, TN, for over 50 years whose family founded The Daily News in Memphis. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, and the University of Virginia law school. Jones is the namesake of the John Paul Jones Arena, a 15,000-seat special events center on the UVA campus.  Home to UVA basketball, the arena is simply known as “the Jack.” 

Howard A. Kalmenson (1949) Founder, president, and CEO of Lotus Communications Corporation, the largest privately owned radio station group in the U.S.  The corporation owns 27 radio stations in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas.  The company also owns three low power television stations in Arizona, Florida, and Texas.  "I can tell you in all honesty that my years at Riverside provided the underpinning for whatever successes came later.  I will always be a grateful and devoted alumnus."

*Frederick J. Kennedy (1964) Noted for his military service which began with graduation from The Citadel and service in the U.S. Army as an infantry and Special Forces officer earning the Bronze Star for Valor; he retired as a lieutenant colonel.  Kennedy was instrumental in the establishment of the North Carolina Leadership Academy in 2013 where he currently serves as chairman of the board of directors.  His civic involvement includes service on the RMA Board of Trustees, including past chairman. He was named RMA Distinguished Alumnus in 2005.

Richard Langford (1944) Retired English instructor from Stetson University.  He is a survivor of the shipwrecked teaching ship, the Albatross and author of the true story, White Squall: The Last Voyage of the Albatross.  Despite his near drowning experience in 1961, he retains his love of the water. 

Rocky Lanz (1990) As a Team USA and World Cup Team Member, he represented the USA in bobsled.  He has won two golds, three silvers, and four bronze medals during his Americas Cup and World Cup competition sliding.  During his time as a junior power lifter, he held several national junior records.  He was inducted into the RMA Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

♦Peter Lyons (1949) Retired attorney who practiced law for 35 years.  Before going to law school he graduated from VMI and served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Afterwards, he attended law school at California Western University in San Diego.  He is the author of Torts and Suds, an autobiographical novel about his transition from the corps to law school. 

*John F. Mandt Sr. (1956) Retired from a five-generation restaurant business in West Virginia. He served as the national president of American Baptist Men and was one of only a few laymen ever elected to serve as president of The American Baptist Churches U.S.A. He was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Alderson Broaddus College in Philippi, WV. He was RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2009.

♦David L. McDonald (1924) (Admiral) Graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1928 and was an Admiral of the United States Navy.  He also served as the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations and was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War.  At the time he was selected as Chief of Naval Operations, he was the youngest full admiral in the navy.

*Ira J. Middleberg, Esq. (1966) Middleberg is a co-founder of the law firm Middleberg, Riddle and Gianna, a regional firm with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; and Biloxi, Mississippi.  Over its 35 year existence, the firm has become recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent residential mortgage banking law firms. He was named RMA's Distinguished Alumnus in 2013.  He served nine years on the RMA Board of Trustees, many of those as treasurer.

Donald Hogan Misner (1953) Graduate of the University of Virginia’s architecture school, Misner was a visionary member of the RMA Board of Trustees during the campus’ rebuilding in the 1990s.  He was an early supporter of The Miami Project for spinal cord injury research, and received the President’s Humanitarian Award from RMA in 2013.

*Abraham (Abe) Alvin Mitchell (1952) Together with his brother Mayer Mitchell, also a RMA graduate (1949), they created The Mitchell Company, which became one of the southeast’s largest real estate companies specializing in single-family homes, apartments, and shopping centers.  Abe Mitchell runs Mitchell Brothers Inc, which focuses on investments and philanthropic support of the community.  He was named Distinguished Alumnus in 2013. 

*Irwin Molasky (1945) One of the country’s most prolific real estate developers with the bulk of his work in California and Las Vegas, his hometown since 1951.  He and his business partner, Merv Adelson, are credited as one of the major developers of Las Vegas in the areas of health care, education, residential developments, and retail shopping. He was a co-founder and officer of Lorimar Entertainment, a conglomerate of television, broadcasting, and print media. He was honored as Riverside's Distinguished Alumnus in 2014.

Domingo R. Moreira (1963) CEO and president of Ladex Corporations.  The Moreira family is the largest single-source producer, marketer, and distributor of shrimp coming from South and Central America.  He is a founding member and former director of the Cuban American National Foundation and the former head of the Free Cuba Political Action Committee (PAC).  In December of 2010 he was honored by Florida Southern College with a degree of Honorary Doctor of Business.  He is a 1967 graduate of FSC.

♦Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill (1938) Known as one of the master architects of Afro Cuban Jazz.  Arturo came out with various albums, including Grammy nominated, Pure Emotion and Latin Grammy nominated, Heart of a Legend in 1995. 

♦George P. Oslin (1913) The inventor of the singing telegram, executive at Western Union and author of The Story of Telecommunication and One Man’s Century: From the Deep South to the Top of the Big Apple.

**Victor M Pacheco (2001) President and CEO of Dominican Wings, a Dominican carrier based in Santo Domingo.  He is the sole stockholder in the carrier which began operations in early 2016.  The Pacheco family is well known in the Dominican Republic for their entrepreneurial spirit and leadership in business.  He has served as vice president for business development and board member of Data Vimenca, executive vice president of Vimenpaq, and director of business for Bank Vimenca. He was recognized as the Distinguished Young Alumnus in 2017.

♦Col. William H. “Bill” Pietsch Jr. (1938) A West Point graduate at the age of 20 and personally recruited for service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) by Bill Donovan in 1943.  Pietsch was accepted by Sir William Stephenson as the third American officer to be “seconded” to the British Secret Service, SOE Executive. He was designated OSS-003. He was awarded the RMA Distinguished Service Award in 2012.

Luis M. Proenza, PhD (1962) served as president of the University of Akron for 15 years. Accomplishments under his leadership include dramatic increases in research funding, enrollment and fundraising, and the $620 million physical transformation of the campus from a commuter school to a vibrant university community. Following his six years at RMA, Dr. Proenza earned a B.A. from Emory University (1965), M.A. from Ohio State University (1966) and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota (1971). 

Tommy Prothro (1938) College and professional football coach. He coached at Oregon State and UCLA as well as for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Cleveland Browns.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1991 and the RMA Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Leroy Raffel (1944) Attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 1949 and served one year in the U.S. Navy at the end of WWII.  He and his brother Forrest were founders of the fast food chain Arby’s in 1964.  By 1979, there were 800 stores and today there are more than 3,500.  They sold the company in the 1970s to Royal Crown Cola.

♦Johnny Riddle (1926) American major and minor league baseball player.  He played in the major league as a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates and the minor league for 19 seasons.  He was manager of the Birmingham Barons from 1942-44 and coached five major league teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates (1948-50), St Louis Cardinals (1952-55), Milwaukee Braves (1951), Cincinnati Reds (1958), and the Philadelphia Phillies (1959).

Henry L. Roediger III, PhD (1965) James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Following his graduation from RMA, Roediger graduated magna cum laude from Washington & Lee University with a B.A. in psychology.  He went on to graduate school at Yale University where he also received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology in 1973. He has published over 200 articles and chapters on various aspects of memory. His most recent book, Make it Stick, was published in 2014.

*E.J. Salcines (1956) A career federal and state prosecutor for 22 years, followed by 13 years of private practice and appointed as Judge of the appellate court in 1998.  In 1974, The National District Attorney’s Association awarded him its Special Merit Award as one of the outstanding prosecuting attorneys of this nation. In 1979, Salcines was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain into the Royal order of Queen Isabella. In 2014, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. He was named RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2003.

♦Henry Russell “Red” Sanders (1923) The head football coach for Vanderbilt University 1940-42 and 46-48, UCLA 1949-57 and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.  He was inducted into the RMA Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

♦Chester W. Slack (1916) Distinguished artist, he painted for the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Darrow families.  He painted the portrait of Col. O.R. Horton for RMA.

♦Everett Strupper (1914) All-American football player.  Played halfback for Georgia Tech from 1915-1917.  Because Strupper was deaf from a childhood illness, he would call out the plays instead of the quarterback.  During his three years at Georgia Tech, they never lost a game.  In 1972, Strupper was posthumously elected into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.  He is credited with the origin of University of Alabama’s Red Elephant mascot after quoting a fan in an Atlanta Journal Constitution Article he wrote.  He was posthumously inducted in to RMA’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Andy W. Talkington (1971) Vice Chairman and Co-Head for Global Industrial Practice CTPartners in Houston, TX. He previously worked as a Senior Client Partner with Korn/Ferry International’s Houston office where he was a member of the firm’s Global Industrial Market. While at Korn/Ferry he specialized in the Board and CEO Services Practice and Energy, Chemicals, Crop Science and Mining Sub-Sectors.  His expertise is filling board of director, CEO and executive-level management positions within the industrial field. He received both his Master’s of Engineering and Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering from Cornell University. He serves on the RMA Board of Trustees.

*Felipe A. Valls, Sr. (1950) Native of Cuba, he is emblematic of the remarkable economic success of Cubans in the US. The Miami Herald compared him to Midas when they called him the man with the golden touch because every business in which he is involved with is a success. His best known restaurant, Versailles, was followed by the well-known chain of Cuban restaurants, La Carreta. The Valls family employs around 2,000 people and their businesses also include The Casa Juancho Restaurant, commercial real estate ventures, and various businesses at the Miami International Airport. He was honored as Riverside's Distinguished Alumnus in 2015.

*Seth Wagner (1956) Founded Fabrik Molded Plastics in 1978 after working in the field of molded plastics for 20 years. Today, Fabrik is a third generation company and is considered a premiere worldwide custom plastic injection and insert molding manufacturer. He attended the University of Chicago for two years, served in the U.S. Army, and then attended and graduated from Roosevelt University. Wagner is a former member of the RMA Alumni Council and serves on the RMA Board of Visitors.  He was recognized as the Distinguished Alumnus in 2017.

♦Douglass Watson (1938) Soap opera, movie, and stage actor, he was nominated for three Daytime Emmy awards and won twice for his work on the soap opera "Another World".  Before his acting career, Douglass received two Purple Heart awards for his service in WWII.

**Kyle Justin Wayne, PhD (2001) Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale School of Medicine, he is the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Young Alumnus award. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Texas A&M University and then received a full fellowship to Indiana University where he obtained a PhD in Microbiology. Wayne is currently conducting research on Salmonella under world-renowned bacterial geneticist, Dr. Eduardo Groisman.  Wayne has published seven scientific papers on the physiology and biochemistry of bacterial pathogens.

*Jeffrey Weiner (1966) Has been a practicing criminal defense attorney in Miami for almost 40 years and has received numerous honors and awards.  He is the recipient of NACDL’s highest honor, the Robert H. Heeney Award.  In addition to his professional achievements, Jeffrey has raised more than $200,000 in private donations and equipment for a clinic in the Andean highlands of Peru.  He was named RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2008. He serves on the RMA Board of Trustees.

Myles Wittenstein (1955) Graduated from Duke University with a degree in economics and has been in the financial industry for 38 years. He is a senior partner and senior vice president of investments in the Wittenstein Adelman Group at UBS Financial Services, Inc.  Before UBS, Wittenstein worked at Merrill Lynch and Sanford C. Bernstein and Company.  He serves as vice president of the board of Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families and also chairs the Duke Cancer Institute Board of Advisors. 

*John R. Wood (1947) Practiced law before beginning his real estate career in 1957.  John founded John R. Wood Properties in 1958 in Naples, Florida and is credited with helping build Naples into the beautiful retirement city that it is known as today.  He is the recipient of the 2013 Hodges University’s Humanitarian of the Year Award and was named RMA’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2010.

 

 

 

 

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