2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Bellarmine takes great pride in the work that our alumni engage in everyday. Every three years we seek alumni who go above and beyond in their efforts to pursue Bellarmine’s Grad at Grad philosophy in the real world. In recognition of the service that these alumni provide their communities we are proud to call them:

Distinguished Alumni

Cindy Reopelle
Bellarmine Class of 1976

Cindy Reopelle is currently the Principal at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington.  She spent eight years as the Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Middle Education and the Assistant for Jesuit and Lay Partnership in the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus. 

She spent the first twenty-four years of her career in Jesuit education at Gonzaga Preparatory School as a theology teacher, campus minister, admissions director and academic vice principal.  She attended two exemplary Jesuit institutions, Bellarmine Preparatory School and Gonzaga University. Cindy was on the founding board of SEEL Spokane and currently participates in the program as a spiritual director and board member.

Father Roy Thaden, S.J.
Bellarmine Class of 1961

Fr. Roy Thaden, S.J. is a Jesuit Priest belonging to the Zambia-Malawi Province of the Society of Jesus.  After graduating from Bellarmine in 1961, he attended and graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane in 1968. Next he went to Zambia in Africa (where he has been spending his life). He attended language school for chiNyanja, and then taught for 3 years at Mpima Minor Seminary in Kabwe (formerly Broken Hill), Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia).  This was part of his formation to become a full-fledged Jesuit. In 1970 Roy began his theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California and received his M. Div. credentials and was ordained in June of 1973.  He spent another year at GU in English graduate studies, then returned to Zambia.

He has been assigned primarily to Lusaka, Zambia, where he has been the Master of Novices several times for many years. He has been the spiritual director for many lay people and for many congregations of Sisters – both Zambian and European. Fr. Thaden’s current job is as the chaplain at the University of Zambia.

Aaron Fullerton
Bellarmine Class of 2003

Aaron Fullerton is a writer and producer of scripted television and an avid cancer blogger. After graduating Bellarmine in 2003, Aaron enrolled at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he earned a BFA in Writing for Film and Television in 2007. Aaron began his career in television working on The CW’s Smallville and then as a script coordinator on USA’s Burn Notice. Following Burn Notice, he was hired as a staff writer on USA’s drama series Graceland. A few months into the first season, Aaron went to the hospital with back pain and was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. He chronicled his treatments -- from surgeries to chemotherapy -- in a humorous cancer blog that was followed by thousands of readers. In April 2013, Aaron was deemed cancer-free and returned to work the following season. Since then, he’s written for ABC Family’s Chasing Life and developed a pilot for Media Rights Capital with Channing Tatum and Free Association. He recently finished his first season as a writer/producer on CBS’s American Gothic. In addition to screenwriting and blogging, he executive produces and co-hosts a twice-monthly podcast for the Writers Guild of America.

Clare Petrich
Aquinas Class of 1961

Clare Petrich, a Tacoma native, comes from a Tacoma boat building family and is actively engaged in all things “maritime.” In 1995 she was the first woman elected to the Port of Tacoma Commission and has been re-elected to that position every four years since then. Clare also manages Petrich Marine Dock, a manufacturing and moorage facility on the Thea Foss Waterway. She started the Commencement Bay Maritime Fest twenty-five years ago and brought Dragon Boats to Tacoma where hundreds of people paddle each year. Clare received the Seattle Propeller Club’s 2015 Public Official of the Year award with Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman to acknowledge their work on the formation of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, bringing together the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Clare’s commitment to thinking globally and acting locally is personified in her service on a variety of boards including Trade Development Alliance, Washington Council for International Trade, Mayor’s Commission on International Relations, Local Emergency Planning, Joint Municipal Action Committee and Sister Cities in Tacoma and Internationally.

John Gaines
Bellarmine Class of 2006

John Gaines or “John PUSH Gaines”, founder of The PUSH Hope Company, is a former at-risk kid turned youth advocate. He speaks at universities, nonprofit organizations, youth conferences, NBA skill camps, churches and schools. He works with groups of parents, educators, coaches and mental health professionals and speaks to and inspires thousands of young people. His ultimate goal is to help as many young people as possible and to help them realize that regardless of the adversity or obstacles they may face, they can still PUSH to be the great human being they were created to be.

John attended East Central University where he graduated outstanding student in Business and won a football championship as captain of the football team. In addition, he graduated from Liberty University with a Master's degree in Business Leadership and he is currently pursuing his Doctorate degree in Business Administration.

Arnold Gustin
Bellarmine Class of 1957

Arnold Gustin began his career with Boeing as a mechanic in the fall of 1957. After leaving Boeing, Arnold worked on the M.V. Western Ace; a tuna clipper fishing boat built by the Western Boat Company, which was owned by another Bellarmine benefactor, the Petrich family. After having fished out of Ponce, Puerto Rico, through the Panama Canal and down the coast of Peru, Arnold joined the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Nereus. After four years in the Navy Arnold returned to Washington, but before long moved to Los Angeles.

In California Arnold married Caylene Wagner while working for Pure Aire Corporation. Not long after Arnold left Pure Aire to co-found Integrated Air System, Inc. Arnold and Caylene had two sons, Brent and Gregory. In 1981 Arnold and his co-founder sold Integrated Air Systems. Five years later Arnold helped co-found Semiconductor Process Equipment Corporation (SPEC) where he now serves as president. The company makes robotic wet process stations for the manufacture of computer chips.

The Honorable Filis Otto+
St. Leo’s Class of 1940

Filis Otto, a life-long resident of Pierce County, attended Seattle University and University of Washington after graduating from St. Leos. She was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1945 and remained an active member for 60 years.

Filis entered private practice in Tacoma, later opening the first all female law firm where she represented and defended hundreds of persons and corporations throughout the Northwest. Determined to apply her experience and better serve the people she became a candidate for public office. In 1966 she was elected Justice Court Judge. She became the first woman elected District Court Judge and served on the bench for 28 years, being elected for seven consecutive terms.

As a judge she was known to be strong, independent, fair and effective. She shared her life with thousands, enriching each with her wisdom, knowledge, understanding, compassion and advice. Filis was a consummate defender of the rights of all always without a need for self-recognition or concern for personal reward.

Francis Browne+
Bellarmine Class of 1935

Francis Browne began his business career at the age of 15 as a partial owner of a local donut shop, which helped him pay his tuition for Bellarmine where he graduated as valedictorian. Francis entered the US Army in 1943 and served during WWII until 1946. After the war he was very successful in Tacoma commercial real estate, being best known for his restaurant of 40 years, Browne’s Star Grill in downtown Tacoma. Francis served as President of the Bellarmine Boosters and helped to found the annual Booster Carnival many other fund-raising events including car auctions and raffles. In 1969 Francis was presented with a Business Award for Outstanding Community Service by the Mallon Ford Dealership. In 1971 he was one of 20 individuals that came forward to save minor league baseball in Tacoma. In June 2007 Francis was recognized by the mayor for his many years of dedicated service as one of Tacoma’s own “living legends.” In 2009 he was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame. Francis was a life-long member of the Tacoma Elks #174. He served on the Daffodil Parade Committee and has supported many charities.

+ Being honored posthumously.

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