Baumgartners Honored at Benedictine College Convocation

Baumgartners Honored at Benedictine Convocation

Couple Receives Cross of the Order of St. Benedict

Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Longtime Atchison residents and Benedictine educators George and Barbara Baumgartner received the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict from Benedictine College during the Opening Academic Convocation on August 30 in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium.

The Baumgartners have been associated with the Atchison Benedictines for almost their entire lives. George lived near campus and worked in the Abbey Student Press print shop as a boy. His father, Andrew, was a long-time employee of the college and ran the print shop from 1924 to 1963. In 1970, Andrew Baumgartner was honored for his service as one of the early recipients of the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict, the honor Barbara and George will receive at the 2016 Opening Convocation.

George graduated from Maur Hill Prep School in 1942 and went on to earn his degree in chemistry from St. Benedict’s College in only three years. Following graduation in 1945, he went to work as an inorganic chemist at Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City, Mo. He did graduate work in organic chemistry at the University of Notre Dame and was a teaching assistant and researcher for a year at Ohio State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Notre Dame in 1953. He taught chemistry at Mount St. Scholastica College and was proud to have Wangari Maathai, the eventual 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, as a student. He served as the Dean of Academic Affairs for Mount St. Scholastica College and was instrumental in working on the 1971 merger of Mount St. Scholastica College and St. Benedict’s College that created Benedictine College. After the merger, he taught chemistry at Benedictine College and was named Assistant Dean. In 1977 he was appointed Acting Dean and the next year he became the Academic Dean of Benedictine College. He was named an “Outstanding Educator of America” in 1971 and Benedictine College named him Educator of the Year in 1981. He retired in 1988.

Barbara graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1953 with a degree in French. She would eventually teach at the Mount Academy as well as Mount St. Scholastica College and Benedictine College. Her teaching career spanned more than 30 years and she served as Director of the English Language Support Program, Director of the Center for General Studies and an adjunct professor in both French and English during her time at Benedictine College. Before that, she taught French at Mount St. Scholastica College and French, English and English as a Second Language at the Academy. She retired in 1999.

George was born and raised in Atchison, Kan., and for much of his life, he has lived within a block of the Benedictine campus. He grew up in a house that stood across from Wolf Hall and then he and Barbara built the house which stood where Lemke Hall is now. There, they raised six children, three boys and three girls. Two graduated from Benedictine College and one of their daughters, Virginia, even has her father’s signature as Academic Dean on her diploma.