Pittsburg State University - Pittsburg, Kansas
PSU Home | PSU Search | GUS / Logins | A-Z Index | Campus Map | Contact Info. | Comments | Help

News @ PSU

News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Friday, May 12, 2006

PSU honors three alumni for lifetime achievement

Pittsburg State University will honor three alumni with its Meritorious Achievement Awards during commencement activities May 19-20. The PSU Alumni Association established the Meritorious Achievement Award in 1958. It is the highest award based on career achievement presented by the Alumni Association. Candidates for the award must have demonstrated substantial professional growth and advancement over an extended period of time. The candidate's activities, including participation and leadership in civic and professional organizations at the local, state, and national levels, are also considered by the awards committee in selecting the recipients.

This year's recipients are Ronald E. Longstaff, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa; Charles Richard "Dick" Webb, founder and chairman of Watco Companies in Pittsburg, Kan.; and the late Joan K. Bowman, a former educator in Shawnee Mission, Kan., and former mayor of Lenexa, Kan.

Ronald E. Longstaff, BSBA '62
Ronald E. Longstaff serves as a judge over both criminal and civil cases for the United States District Court in Des Moines, Davenport, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. He is a judge in a district that handles an average of 1,200 civil and criminal cases a year.

Longstaff was named chief judge in 1999, after serving as a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa since 1991. Previously, he spent 15 years as a United States magistrate judge for the Southern District of Iowa, and in 1989 was appointed chief U.S. magistrate judge. He began his law career in 1965 as a clerk before becoming an associate at the McWilliams, Gross & Kirtley Law Firm in 1967. He also served as an adjunct faculty member for Drake Law School.

In addition to presiding over his docket of civil and criminal cases, Judge Longstaff's work includes conducting naturalization ceremonies, impaneling grand juries and sitting on the Court of Appeals. He is actively involved in a multi-million dollar renovation project of the Davenport courthouse and is working toward obtaining a new federal courthouse in Des Moines.

Judge Longstaff is one of only two students in the history of the University of Iowa Law School to have three articles published in the "Iowa Law Review." He publishes as many as 75 legal opinions per year, and has written 12 opinions for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was instrumental in creating the Stephenson Trial Advocacy Program at the University of Iowa Law School, and has been a lecturer at numerous bar association meetings and presentations over the years.

Longstaff earned a bachelor of science in business administration degree with a major in accounting from Pittsburg State University. He earned a juris doctorate with a major in law from the University of Iowa in 1965.

Charles Richard "Dick" Webb, BSBA '62
Charles Richard "Dick" Webb is the founder of Watco Companies in Pittsburg, Kan., which began in 1983 as a single contract railroad switching location with eight employees in DeRidder, La. One of the first to develop this concept, Webb started the business in order to assist large industries in getting railroad cars on a timely basis by having a dedicated crew and equipment to complete all in-plant switching. Today, Watco has 15 switching operations in five states.

In 1985 Watco added the repair of coal trains traveling from the coal fields of Wyoming to the electric utility companies in the South. Because of the initial success of the car repair division, Watco Companies presently has rail car repair facilities in Pittsburg and Coffeyville, Kan., and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as mobile car repair stations in 21 states. There are also locomotive shops in Jacksonville, Fla.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Meridian, Miss.; Panama City, Fla.; and Wichita, Kan. In order to facilitate the movement of rail cars for repair, the first short line railroad was purchased in 1987. The short lines provide a valuable service for customers and have helped hundreds of companies stay in business. Watco is now the largest privately held short line railroad operator in the country with 17 short lines and more than 3,300 miles of track.

Named as the top business in the state of Kansas for 2005, Watco Companies has grown from its original eight employees at one location to more than 14,000 employees in 23 states. Watco also employs a number of PSU students and alumni in many locations.

Webb earned a bachelor of science in business administration degree with a major in marketing from Pittsburg State University.

Joan K. Bowman, BSED '62

The Honorable Joan K. Petty Bowman has a history of educational and public service. She began her teaching career in 1963 as a math teacher at Milburn Junior High School in Shawnee Mission, Kan. She served as a board member and president of the Shawnee Mission Board of Education and worked on several education boards with the State of Kansas, including the Advisory Council for Special Education, the Committee for Excellence, and the Commission on Restructuring Schools.

For 15 years, Bowman served on the Lenexa City Council, working as mayor from 1995 to 2003. During that time, she worked on the Kansas Task Force for Economic Development, the League of Kansas Municipalities, the Kansas Mayors Association, and as chairwoman of the Johnson/Wyandotte County Council of Mayors.

When Bowman died from cancer on March 11, 2004, a tribute to her dedication to public service was entered into the Congressional Record, and the United States flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor. Flags were also flown at half-staff in the city of Lenexa. The city dedicated a seven-foot bronze statue of its namesake Na Nex Se (a Shawnee Indian woman) to Bowman, placing it on the grounds of City Hall.

Bowman earned a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in mathematics from Pittsburg State University.

---Pitt State---