Skip to main content

Honorable Walter H. Rice Honorary Alumni Award

Recipients Prior to 2000

Recipients of the Honorable Walter H. Rice Honorary Alumni Award demonstrate extraordinary commitment to their community, profession and the School of Law. Honorary alumni are nominated by School of Law graduates.

  • Click here to learn more about recipients from 2000-2010.
  • Click here to learn more about recipients from 2011 to present.

Richard L. Braun, 1980 Recipient

Richard Braun graduated from Stanford University around the time of Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and became a Marine Aviator as a double ace pilot flying off of aircraft carriers and shooting down numerous Japanese airplanes. After the war, Braun became a personal pilot to comodante of the Marine Corp in Washington, D.C., and in the evening attended Georgetown Law School. He graduated with honors and then led units consisting of Navy and Marine lawyers of the Pentagon until his discharge.

After his military service, Braun joined the Georgetown Law School faculty until he was appointed deputy assistant attorney general of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson. After Johnson left office he became an executive with the Automobile Manufacturing Association in Detroit until the academic bug bit him one more time. He taught at the University of Detroit Law School and at Southwestern Law School in California for one year before heading back to Detroit to serve as dean of the law school.

Two years later, Braun was chosen as the first dean of the reopened University of Dayton School of Law, where he served until 1980. Given his stellar military, academic, governmental and business background, his selection as the first dean proved to be most fortuitous. Braun's ability to overcome the skepticism, particularly by the members of the Dayton Bar, was swiftly overcome as the community became increasingly impressed by his administrative and social capabilities.

Norman George, 1981 Recipient

Norman George was one of the key participants in the organization of the University of Dayton School of Law's modern era, beginning before its reopening in 1974. He was named acting dean prior to Richard Braun's arrival and served as dean during transitional stages, from 1973-74 and from 1980-81. His retirement from full-time teaching in 1993 culminated 32 years of service to the University, which included faculty and administrative positions at the School of Business prior to his work with the School of Law.

A native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, George pursued his career almost entirely in his home state. His graduate degrees included a Ph.D. in business and economics as well as the J.D. His law school areas of interest reflect his academic and professional background in the business and economic areas of the law. His orientation places emphasis on the practice and application facets of the profession. He believes strongly that professional skills practiced at the highest levels intertwine both the substance and the process of the law.

The Honorable Walter H. Rice, 1982 Recipient

Walter H. Rice graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in 1958. In 1962 he received both his M.B.A. and J.D. from Columbia University.

In 1969 he was elected judge of the Dayton Municipal Court. A year and a half later he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas and was twice re-elected. His distinguished service there and his gifts of scholarly achievement and judicial temperament were recognized with his 1980 appointment by President Carter as judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Since 1976 Judge Rice has taught Trial Practice at the University of Dayton School of Law almost every semester, and taught it so effectively that our graduates are noted for their ability in this area. Additionally, the Walter H. Rice Moot Court Competition is a pivotal experience in the life of every student in the School of Law.

Judge Rice has served as a member of the School of Law's Advisory Council since its inception. His advice and counsel have supported every dean in the modern history of the School. Students hold him in the highest regard, not only for his teaching skills and scholarly eminence, but also more importantly for his genuine care and concern.

Dennis T. Turner, 1983 Recipient

Professor Dennis Turner received his B.A. from Georgetown University in 1967 and his J.D. from the college's School of Law in 1970. After graduating, he served as an assistant county prosecutor for Montgomery County, Ohio, for two years and then as magistrate for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for two years. In the fall of 1974, when the University of Dayton School of Law reopened, Turner was one of five faculty members. Some of the courses he has taught include Civil Procedure, Evidence, Property, Landlord-Tenant, Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trial Practice, Clinic and Conflicts of Law.

In addition to teaching, he has served as assistant dean, acting dean, director of the clinic, chair of the Admissions Committee and the first director of Legal Profession Program. For many years, he served as advisor for the School of Law Mock Trial and Moot Court Teams. He is a master of the bench for the Carl D. Kessler Inn of Court and a Master Teaching Fellow for the University of Dayton. He was twice chosen by the University of Dayton law students as professor of the year and received the University of Dayton's Outstanding Teacher Award in 1990.

The Honorable Robert A. Steinberg, 1985 Recipient

Judge Robert Steinberg received his B.A. from The Ohio State University in 1964 and his J.D. from The Ohio State University School of Law in 1966. Prior to becoming a judge, he was the senior assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. From 1969 to 1972 Judge Steinberg was an adjunct professor at the Chase College of Law, teaching Criminal Procedure. He then came to the University of Dayton as an adjunct professor teaching Organized Crime. Judge Steinberg was also an instructor for the Attorney General's Advocacy Institute.

In addition to being named an Honorary Alumnus of the University of Dayton School of Law, Judge Steinberg has received the Attorney General's Special Achievement Award and the Department of Justice's Outstanding Performance Award. He was also one of only five U.S. attorneys selected to participate in drafting the new federal criminal code.

E. Dale Searcy, 1986 Recipient

Professor Dale Searcy received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1959 from the General Motors Institute, and his law degree from Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1963. After two years of private practice in Traverse City, Michigan, he earned his L.L.M. in Taxation from New York University in 1966. Thereafter, he taught at the University of Tulsa, the University of Detroit and then, as a visiting professor, at Wayne State University. He also resumed practicing law in Traverse City.

Professor Searcy came to the University of Dayton School of Law in 1976. He has taught Individual Income Taxation, Estate and Gift Taxation, Estate Planning, Corporate Taxation, Wills & Trusts, Business Planning, and Taxation of Partnerships and Sub-chapter S Corporations. He also served as advisor to the Law Review, many Tax Moot Court teams, and VITA program. He has been chosen professor of the year by the student body 10 times.

The Honorable Walter S. Porter, 1987 Recipient

The Honorable Walter Porter is a Court of Common Pleas judge for Montgomery County. Before becoming a judge, he was a partner with the Dayton law firm of Smith & Schnacke. In 1970, Judge Porter served on a 12-lawyer advisory committee to the Ohio Supreme Court that drafted a series of reforms for the state's criminal justice system. The reforms were adopted three years later in 1973, when he was appointed state bar president by Governor Richard Celeste.

Judge Porter graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1949 with degrees in law and engineering. He has been involved with the School of Law Advisory Council and an ad hoc committee of the the school to study enrollment.

The Honorable William H. Wolff Jr., 1988 Recipient

William H. Wolff Jr. graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1967. He entered into private practice before becoming a judge for the Dayton Municipal Court, and one year later, for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Since 1985 Judge Wolff has served on the Montgomery County Court of Appeals. He has also been an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton School of Law since 1981.

John O. Henry, 1989 Recipient

John O. Henry was a fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Probate Lawyers. He taught Litigation and Estate Planning as an adjunct professor for the University of Dayton School of Law. Henry was Initial Trustee of the Estabrook Charitable Trust and a member of the law school's Program in Law and Technology.

Henry received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from the Columbia University School of Law. He was a member of the firm Estabrook, Finn & McKee and saw through the firm's merger with the Columbus law firm Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur.

Francis J. Conte, 1990 Recipient

Francis J. Conte served as dean of the University of Dayton School of Law from 1987 to 2001. After stepping down as dean, he returned to the classroom and taught full-time at UDSL. He died in 2011.

Professor Conte came to the School of Law from the Detroit College of Law, where he taught for seven years. He also developed and served as director of the Center for Canadian-U.S. Law and implemented the Canadian Summer Law Internship Program. The latter provides American law students the opportunity to earn academic credit through study and placement with public lawyers, appellate judges, major law firms, legislatures, and corporations in Ottawa and Montreal. He was the recipient of two faculty enrichment awards from the Canadian Embassy for his development of course materials in Comparative Constitutional Law and U.S.-Canadian Immigration Law. Additionally, Professor Conte served as a mediator for the Wayne County Mediation Tribunal, for the Wayne County Circuit Courts and Federal District Courts in Michigan from 1985 to 1987.

A native of Massachusetts, Professor Conte received his undergraduate degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University in 1964. He was awarded his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1969.

Professor Conte began his professional career as a trade specialist for the Bureau of International Commerce in the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. From 1968 to 1970, he served as a staff attorney for the Office of Council, Naval Ships System Command, Department of the Navy. In 1971, he joined the central Massachusetts Legal Services as a staff attorney. He was appointed executive director of legal services for Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1973. In 1977, he joined the faculty of the University of Montana School of Law, where he taught and developed the Civil Clinical program. He then accepted the faculty position at Detroit College of Law in 1980 before coming to UDSL in 1987.

The Honorable Michael R. Merz, 1991 Recipient

Michael R. Merz is a U.S. magistrate in the Montgomery County Federal building in Dayton. He received his Associates of Business Administration degree in 1967 and his Juris Doctor degree in 1970, both from Harvard University. Judge Merz worked as an associate attorney with Smith & Schnacke law firm for five years before becoming partner in 1976. He was appointed judge in the Dayton Municipal Courts a year later, and in 1984, he became federal magistrate in Dayton. Judge Merz has had several of his decisions published and has received several judicial awards. He has been an adjunct professor for the School of Law since 1979.

His professional and civic memberships include the American Bar Association, the American Judicature Conference, the Ohio Municipal Judges Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Dayton Bar Association, and the Miami Valley Council on Aging. He is also a trustee and a member of the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Dayton.

Lee C. Falke, 1992 Recipient

Lee Charles Falke attended the University of Dayton from 1948 to 1951 majoring in business administration. Falke received his Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws and Letters, and Juris Doctor degrees from The Ohio State University.

In 1955, Falke was employed as an associate for the Estabrook, Finn and McKee law firm. From 1957 to 1960, he was the assistant prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County. Falke was also a partner at Young, Pryor, Lynn, Strickland and Falke from 1958 to 1965. He left private practice to become the prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County.

Involved in many professional organizations and associations, Falke has been president of the Law Enforcement Officers Association (1966-1968), president of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (1971), member of the National District Attorneys Association (1979-1981) and a member of the U.S. Justice Department, Criminal Division Executive Working Group (1981-1982).

Falke received the University of Dayton's Outstanding Professional Achievement Award in 1968, was the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association in 1970, and won the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year Award in 1971. He also received a Supreme Court Award for Excellent Service, Advancement of Criminal Justice in 1971, and was nominated for University of Dayton's Alumni Award several times before being named an Honorary Alumnus of the School of Law in 1992.

Roger J. Makley, 1993 Recipient

Roger J. Makley devoted his life to public service. Roger graduated from Chaminade High School in Dayton and Georgetown University, where he received Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degree. Beginning in 1961 he served as a staff attorney with several federal government agencies in Washington, D.C., including the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1964 he returned to Dayton, where he served as assistant U.S. attorney, U.S. attorney, and U.S. magistrate for 14 years. He has been President of the Dayton and Federal Bar Associations, the Legal Aid Society of Dayton, the University of Dayton Advisory Council, and has served as an adjunct faculty member for the School of Law.

He has been an exceptionally helpful source of friendship, advice and support to the dean and the School of Law over his years of service. An extraordinary trial lawyer, this colorful man of wit and wisdom ably served his clients and earned the respect of his peers. He had much to share and gave generously. His legacy lives on in all those touched by his gifts and kindness.

Hugh E. Wall Jr., 1994 Recipient

Hugh E. Wall Jr., a Dayton native, began his legal career as a tax associate with Albus & Greaney in Washington, D.C. He returned to Dayton in 1940 and a year later joined the law firm now known as Coolidge, Wall, Womsley & Lombard Co LPA, where he was a senior partner from 1965 until his retirement in 1977. As Dayton's first tax specialist, Wall's advice was sought by many a lawyer and judge. He distinguished himself in his dedication to family, church, clients, his profession, the University of Dayton and the community.

He passed away in 2001.

Brother Raymond L. Fitz, SM, 1995 Recipient

Raymond Fitz was born in Akron. He entered the Society of Mary, a religious order, and began his studies at the University of Dayton in 1960. He graduated with honors, receiving a B.S. in electrical engineering and then moved on to the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, New York, to receive an M.S. in 1967 and a Ph. D. in 1969 in the same field. The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn has honored Brother Fitz as a Distinguished Alumnus.

Prior to becoming the University of Dayton's 17th president, Brother Fitz spent a decade in a variety of university-related positions, ranging from a faculty member in the School of Engineering to the executive director of the Center for Christian Renewal. During that time, he co-authored Shaping the Coming Age of Religious Life, designed a program management system for Catholic Relief Services, and helped design a rural development project in the Republic of Niger. As a Kettering Foundation Fellow during 1973-1974, he researched the social problems of world hunger and urban decay.

His twin abilities to think boldly and empower people have led to remarkable growth during his tenure, including quadrupling of the annual operating budget from $51 million to almost $225 million. Sponsored research has jumped from $17 million to approximately $45 million, making UD one of the top research universities in the state and a leader among Catholic universities.

As president, Brother Fitz focused the University community on the challenge to "Learn. Lead. Serve." The University worked to develop a distinctive general education curriculum, to strengthen its targeted graduate programs, to lead in advanced technology education and research, to enhance its residential character and service tradition as integral components of the learning environment, and to build its partnerships with regional communities and institutions. Brother Fitz was awarded the Honorary Alumnus Award from the School of Law in 1995 and served as president of the University of Dayton until 2002. He currently serves as director of UD's Center for Leadership in the Community.

Mary E. Keller, 1996 Recipient

Mary E. Keller was the sister of Joseph E. Keller, a University of Dayton graduate and School of Law graduate for whom the law school is named. The two established the Joseph E. and Mary E. Keller Scholarship Fund at the University of Dayton in 1994, and Ms. Keller remained a trustee of the foundation until her death in 2002. She was a lifelong friend of both the law school and the university, where she was a member of the John Stuart Society and President's Club.

The Honorable George J. Gounaris, 1997 Recipient

George Gounaris is a judge for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division. A graduate of Nothern Kentucky University's Salmon P. Chase College of Law, he was admitted to the bar in 1960.

Judge Gounaris is a member of the Ohio Common Pleas Court Judges Association, the Dayton and Ohio Bar Association, the Exploring Committee of the Boy Scouts, and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Joseph F. Connelly, 1998 Recipient

Joseph F. Connelly worked for 30 years at Third National Bank. He retired in 1992 as executive vice president and head of the trust department. He also served on the Board of Directors for 25 years. Connelly also served as board chairman for Central Pharmaceuticals from 1969 to June 1995. He became involved with Central Pharmaceuticals while a trust officer at Third National Bank. He died in 1999.

After attending the University of Dayton for his undergraduate education, Connelly received his Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1949. His professional organizations and associations included president of Krammer Foundation, chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Commission, board of trustees of St. Elizabeth Hospital, president of the Ohio Bankers Association Trust Division and Dayton & Ohio State Bankers Association, and president of the Dayton Boys & Girls Club.

Jane Scharrer, 1999 Recipient

Jane Scharrer is a longtime friend of the University of Dayton School of Law. She received the Honorary Alumna Award in appreciation for her consistent support of the school's vision and a commitment to the school in memory of her father, the late Montgomery County prosecutor Albert H. Scharrer, and her mother, Helen. Today, the Keller Hall atrium bears her parents' names.

The School of Law is only one of many organizations and causes the lifetime Republican and wildlife enthusiast supports, including her own alma mater, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. An equestrienne, tennis player, dog lover, bicyclist and collector of hundreds of distinctive crystal figurines, Scharrer grew up in the company of many well-known Daytonians, including John Siebenthaler, Horace M. Huffman Jr. and John Berry, to name a few. She beams at the memory of her father, a prominent Dayton attorney who practiced from the time he passed the bar exam in 1909 until his death in 1979 and the youngest prosecutor ever elected up to that time. "He represented some pretty bad characters," Scharrer said of her father, who became a criminal lawyer after he left the prosecutor's office in 1927.

Francis Conte, who was dean at the time Scharrer was presented with the Honorary Alumna Award, said she is a great friend of the law school. "She comes to our events, supports the directions we're taking and does all this because she chooses," he said. "There couldn't have been a more fitting award for Jane Scharrer."


School of Law

Keller Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2760