by Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Editor, Jewish Press
On Oct. 2, the Central High School Alumni Association inducted nine individuals whose paths from the school led them to the highest levels of achievement in business and community service.
Sam Beber, Class of 1919
After his graduation from Central and then Creighton University Law School, Sam became a highly successful attorney recognized for his integrity, wisdom, and legal counsel. In Omaha, in 1924, he created a program enabling Jewish young men, many of whom were immigrants, or their sons, to come together to socialize, to be of service to others, and to carry on Jewish traditions in the modern world. The program was named with the Hebrew letters, Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA). Sam enlisted B’nai B’rith, an international Jewish service organization, to sponsor AZA, which quickly became the largest Jewish youth organization in the world. Later, a similar organization for young Jewish women became, with AZA, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), with chapters on every continent. Sam also was a founder of Omaha’s Beth El Synagogue. He helped rescue Jews fleeing Nazi Europe and was involved in many charitable and civic causes. Sam became a developer, helping to develop Park Forest, Illinois, a planned community of over 22,000, initially built to meet the housing needs of returning war veterans and the Port of Ashdod, in Israel.
David Jacobson, Class of 1966
David Jacobson has achieved remarkable success as a corporate, civic, and community leader. After his graduation from UNL Law School, David practiced as a Legal Aid attorney in Omaha and joined the Kutak Rock Law Firm in 1977. From 1996 to the present, he has been Chairman of Kutak Rock LLP, a nationally-known law firm of 485 attorneys with offices in 16 states. David’s leadership has preserved and maintained the firm’s culture that supports the importance of community involvement, treating people equally, and developing the potential of all persons. David and his wife Nancy have four children (three Central alums) Rachel, Sara, Ben and Justin. David’s civic leadership is seen in his involvement in many pro bono and charitable causes, including as a 20-year board member of Partnerships 4 Kids, Chairman of the Board of Film Streams, and a co-founder of the Omaha Black/Jewish Dialogue. David has also provided community leadership for CHS by helping to raise funds needed to improve facilities for CHS athletics and by helping to establish the Central High School Foundation.
Roy Katskee, Class of 1960
At Northwest High School, Roy achieved the highest recognition for his outstanding coaching accomplishments in girls’ and boys’ gymnastics, boys’ track, and softball. Roy’s 301-78 gymnastics record includes six state championships, eight Metro Conference championships, and eight individual all-around state champions. His track teams produced 27 individual, Metro, and state champions, and his softball teams compiled a 79-31 winning record. He is one of the Omaha Public Schools’ most successful coaches and, as a result, he has been inducted into several halls of fame, including the Northwest High School Hall of Fame, the Omaha Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, and the Jewish Community Center Hall of Fame. Roy has also been active in his community, including serving as a merit badge consultant-facilitator for the BSA and giving dedicated support to CHS by serving as a board member and President of the Alumni Association and as Hall of Fame Chairman.
Alan Marer, Class of 1951
After graduating from Stanford University, Alan served in the U.S. Army and then received his LL.B. from Columbia University in 1961. Alan began his career as a lawyer in the Appeals and Research Section of the United States Justice Department Civil Rights Division where he developed a passion for civil rights issues. He, along with others, drafted the Public Accommodations Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Housing Act, laws that would eventually lead to providing equal opportunity for all U.S. citizens. Alan left the Justice Department in 1977, was appointed General Counsel of the Office of Economic Opportunity (for the Western Region), briefly entered private practice, and then returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a supervising attorney on the impeachment of President Nixon. Alan completed his legal career by practicing appellate law in California with his brother Gerald.
Cory L. Richards, Class of 1966
After graduating from Yale and working on Capitol Hill where he became involved in public health issues, Cory joined the Guttmacher Institute as policy analyst focusing on issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. His critical, creative, and strategic thinking abilities, along with excellent communication skills, provided the basis for his becoming the spokesperson for Guttmacher’s research, public education, policy analysis, and advocacy initiatives. His intellectual talents and his outgoing personality helped him advance in the organization to Executive Vice President. Based on his identifying severe gaps in insurance coverage for contraceptives, Cory was the architect of policy changes that benefitted millions of U.S. women and families, and he also founded the Guttmacher Policy Review, a journal that analyzes sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. Cory was an enthusiastic giver of his time and talents, and he has provided generous support to Central through the CHS Foundation.
Jerome Turner, Class of 1953
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, Jerry Turner became an innovative leader in the athletic footwear industry. Jerry’s unique athletic shoe design techniques included using ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), shock absorbing midsoles, removable sock liners, Gore Tex, dual density EVA, and varus wedge — all innovations that became industry standard. He and his wife combined their skills and marketing knowledge to become one of the first foreign-owned Chinese manufacturing companies to employ hundreds of workers in the U.S. and thousands in China, producing such brands as Avia, Turntec, Nevados, And1 and Ryka. He has been inducted into the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame (along with Phil Knight) and the Fashion Footwear Hall of Fame. He has also continued to support CHS by endowing a generous scholarship to be awarded to a CHS graduate who will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Also inducted this year were Ramona (Thompson) Bartee, Class of 1963; Peter Buffett, Class of 1976 and Rita Ryan, Distinguished Educator.