2017 Alumni Award Winners

We celebrate those honored with this year’s Alumni Awards for following the example of Norbert of Xanten as they live out their daily lives.

Alma Mater Award
Thomas A. Schmidt ’71

Tom SchmidtA St. Norbert classmate of Thomas Schmidt’s recalls him as a hard-working student dedicated to “receiving an education that would serve him well as the leader of a large and successful business.” Mission accomplished.

As the head of U.S. Venture (formerly U.S. Oil) from 1990 to 2007, Tom took the small, family-owned company in Combined Locks, Wis., to a position as one of the state’s largest closely held companies, ranked third in 2016 by Deloitte. The company now operates in 44 states and Canada, with more than 1,500 employees. Tom, who retired as president in 2007, continues to preside as chairman of the board.

During his tenure, Tom led U.S. Venture to become a powerhouse in more than just business – the company is one of the most important philanthropic forces in northeast Wisconsin. The U.S. Venture Open has raised more than $36 million to fight poverty in Wisconsin. In addition, the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation has supported hundreds of charitable causes nationally and internationally. Particularly dear to Tom’s heart is the foundation’s support of a school in the slums of Ongata Rongai, Kenya, that educates, feeds and provides healthcare to hundreds of children daily.

Tom has given his time and talent, as well. He was a founding member of the Children’s Mental Health Center Advisory Committee, out of which sprang Catalpa Health, which has greatly improved children’s access to quality mental health care. He has also served as director for the Valley Kids’ Foundation and on the board of directors for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and Affinity Health System.

Tom’s wise counsel has been eagerly sought out by his professional peers. He has served as president of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association, and president of the board of the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

In all that he has done professionally and personally, Tom has epitomized one of U. S. Venture’s differentiating values, “Caring Relationships.” His commitment to ethical behavior, personal integrity and “family first” decision-making has made his company and its leadership widely admired.

It’s a career clearly worth talking about … unless you’re Tom himself. His nominators describe a self-effacing man quick to give credit to others and to empower their success. But discerning observers know that this modest man is one of uncommon achievement, richly deserving of the Alma Mater Award.

Distinguished Achievement in Natural Sciences
Dr. Joan Cox Gill ’65

Joan Cox GillAs one of the country’s leading authorities on pediatric hemostasis and thrombosis, Dr. Joan Cox Gill has touched the lives of countless patients and their families dealing with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. And as a professor of pediatrics, medicine and epidemiology, she has mentored numerous other medical professionals who are now making their own critical contributions in the research and treatment of blood-related disorders.

In the 41 years since she received her doctorate from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Gill has been lauded for her work both in the exam room and in the laboratory. She has been named one of the Best Doctors in America every year since 1996.

Recently retired as director of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Bleeding Disorders Center, she has held numerous other positions on medical boards and professional organizations, including the Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation, the National Hemophilia Foundation, and the Hemostasis & Thrombosis Research Society.

Her academic career has spanned more than three decades at the Medical College of Wisconsin, during which time she has made extraordinary contributions through her research. She has hundreds of peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, journal editorials and research abstracts to her credit. Dr. Gill and her team were the first to identify the immune abnormalities in hemophilia patients that ultimately became recognized as AIDS, and she led the clinical work on the first National Institutes of Health-funded grant on AIDS in hemophilia patients. Her work has been equally important in the diagnosis and treatment of von Willebrand disease.

A role model for numerous female physicians, Dr. Gill raised her daughter, Gretchen, as she completed the demanding professional path of medical school, residency, clinical care and research. And yet, as a nominator observed, she has still given freely of her time to advance the careers of scores of students, residents, fellows and junior faculty.

For her exceptional efforts on behalf of children and others with blood disorders, and for her impressive body of work as an educator, researcher and clinician, Dr. Joan Cox Gill is a fitting recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Natural Sciences.

2017 Distinguished Achievement in Public Service
Susan De Groot Boucher ’73

Susan De GrootIt’s a rare person who can claim graduate degrees in both law and music; rarer still is one who has put each of those degrees to work as admirably as Susan De Groot Boucher ‘73.

Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in music, with honors, from St. Norbert College, and continued to excel in that discipline while attaining a master’s degree from Wichita State University.For nearly two decades, she volunteered her talents on the piano at Edgewood High School and Blessed Sacrament Grade School in Madison, serving as accompanist for the schools’ musicals and choirs. Several times each day for weeks on end, Susan would set work aside to travel to the schools for rehearsals and performances. For this tireless effort, she was inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame of Fine Arts, and in 2011, she received the Community Service Award from the Wisconsin Music Educators Association, in recognition of her selfless contributions.

At the same time, Susan was pursuing a career in law. After Wichita State, she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, and received her Juris Doctor degree in 1978. That same year, she began a practice in estate planning, probate and marital property with the Madison firm Aagaard & Nichol. Ten years into her legal career, she joined her husband, Joe, at Stolper, Koritzinsky, Brewster & Neider, and became a founding member of the Neider and Boucher law firm when it was formed in 1995.  She continues to practice law there to this day.

Susan’s work in law has been appreciated far beyond her client base: Madison Magazine named her one of the city’s top attorneys in 2005 and a Wisconsin 2016/Madison-area Super Lawyer; Milwaukee Magazine named her one of the top attorneys in Wisconsin in 2016; and she has been nationally recognized for her expertise and ethical practice.

A successful law career and a busy schedule of volunteer musicianship would qualify as a full plate for most, but Susan had still more to give, particularly to her family: Her nominators universally cite her as a loving wife to Joe, a caring mother of three, and a doting grandma to her grandchildren.

As an outstanding scholar, an accomplished lawyer, a champion of music education and a woman devoted to family and faith, Susan De Groot Boucher has excelled in every respect, and for that reason, we are proud to honor her with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Public Service.

2017 Distinguished Achievement in Public Service
Karl T. Van Roy ’61

Karl Van RoyThrough more than three decades in the restaurant business, Karl Van Roy ’61 earned a reputation for good service.

But service was Karl’s focus long before – and well after – his days as a restaurateur.

Karl served his country for two years in the U.S. Army in the 1960s. Returning to Wisconsin, he spent ten years learning the hospitality business before opening his own restaurant – the much-loved River’s Bend Supper Club in Howard, Wis. – in 1974.

In the years that followed, the River’s Bend gained a loyal following of families throughout northeast Wisconsin, and Karl himself earned the recognition of the industry: He was tapped to serve as president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, and in 1990, he was named Wisconsin Restaurateur of the Year.

Karl used his position as a businessman as a platform from which to engage deeply in his community. He became a member of the Howard Suamico Optimist Club, and during his 43 years of faithful service to that organization, he held various officer positions including president; he was later awarded a lifetime membership.

He also helped establish the N.E.W. Zoo and organize its successful “Feast With the Beasts” fundraiser. Karl served as a YMCA Partner in Youth, a member of the Brown County Corrections Board, a charter member of the Howard Suamico Business Association, and a member of the Brown County Republican Party and the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce.

In 1998, Karl retired from the restaurant business – but not from his life of service. He successfully ran for the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2002, and served with distinction for five terms before calling it a day at the “tender” age of 75. Robin Vos, current speaker of the assembly, cited Karl for his “dignified interaction with all members and their varying viewpoints and philosophies,” an approach deeply rooted in the Norbertine commitment to dialogue and collaboration, and one sorely missed in today’s political environment.

A true servant leader, Karl Van Roy is exactly the sort of alumnus we celebrate with the St. Norbert College Distinguished Achievement Award for Public Service, which we are honored to bestow upon him.


Nov. 10, 2017