KU recognizes distinguished alumni

A diverse foursome  barbecue expert, diplomat, engineer and volunteer  is linked by association with Kansas University.

That bond will be strengthened Friday when all four receive the Distinguished Service Citation. It’s the highest honor given by the university and the KU Alumni Association.

Honorees are Richard Davis of Leawood, founder of KC Masterpiece; Kenton Keith of Washington, D.C., a diplomat recently assigned to Pakistan; Alan Mulally of Mercer Island, Wash., president of Boeing Commercial Airlines Group; and Hortense “Tensie” Oldfather of Lawrence, active in many local organizations.

KU graduates Davis, Keith and Mulally, as well as Oldfather, who attended KU in 1964, will receive awards at the annual All-University Supper at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Kansas Union ballroom.

Since 1941, citations have been presented to men and women whose lives and careers helped benefit humanity.

More than 400 faculty, staff, students and alumni are expected to attend. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway will speak about the state of the university.

The honorees:

 Davis earned a liberal arts degree from KU in 1950 and a medical degree from KU in 1954. He was a child psychiatrist, instructor and author before founding KC Masterpiece, of which he is chairman of the board. Davis’ community involvement includes the Stop the Violence Coalition and the Boys Club of Johnson County.

 Keith received a liberal arts degree from KU in 1961. He began a foreign service career with postings to Middle East countries. He was cultural attache in Paris and U.S. ambassador to Qatar. Keith relies on those experiences in his role with the U.S. State Department, where he was charged with setting up and operating the new Coalition Information Center in Islamabad, Pakistan.

 Mulally is a Lawrence native who earned an engineering degree from KU in 1968. He’s been with Boeing Co. for 33 years. He was general manager of Boeing’s 777 aircraft program. He’s now president of the company’s commercial airline group and senior vice president of Boeing. He previously received KU’s Distinguished Engineering Service Award.

 Oldfather made “think globally, act locally” a way of life. In addition to rearing seven children, the former KU student was active in Head Start and American Red Cross. Her civic concern extended to mental health issues in Douglas County, and she has been active on the boards of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and The Villages. Oldfather’s generosity has helped build a new home for KU public radio station KANU-FM.