The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association will honor three graduates on Friday, Sept. 28 as the 2012 Distinguished Alumni: A computer programmer who helped get Apollo 13 back from the moon, a long-time high school band director, and a successful businessman and philanthropist.
This year’s honorees are Homer A. Ahr (B.S. ’68), David C. Dickson (B.B.A. ’68), and Henry “Pete” Van de Putte Jr. (B.A. ’72).
Homer Ahr, a retired IBM Corporation Consulting Architect, is a self-taught computer programmer who graduated from St. Mary’s after earning a degree in Mathematics. He immediately joined IBM and a year later was on the console in Mission Control for Apollo 11 – the mission that sent the first man to the moon. The next year, he was a maneuver control operator on Mission Operations for Apollo 13 and a part of the team that managed to safely bring the damaged craft back to Earth. Ahr’s team earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from President Richard Nixon for their efforts.
David Dickson, president of Great Central Mortgage, LTD., grew up next door to St. Mary’s and went on to earn his business degree here. After serving as an Army helicopter pilot, he left military service and began his own business in the mortgage industry, which he now runs with his son, Chris. Dickson has long been active the Fiesta Oyster Bake, previously served on the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees, and co-chaired the Extending the Tradition of Excellence Campaign.
Henry “Pete” Van de Putte Jr., president and CEO of Dixie Flag Manufacturing Company, built a successful career as a high school band director in the San Antonio Independent School District. While music education was his first love, Van de Putte eventually left the teaching field to run the family business, Dixie Flag. He believes in servant leadership the importance of volunteerism, serving on numerous boards and committees and has remained strongly involved in Fiesta Oyster Bake.