Past Gala Honorees
2019 Gala Honoree
Ray & Randa Gilliam
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate the Randa and Ray Gilliam by presenting them with the 2019 del sarto humanitarian award.
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate Randa and Ray Gilliam by presenting them with the 2019 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
Randa was born in Ruston, Louisiana, and was raised in Bellaire. Ray is a native Texan also raised in Bellaire. Randa went to Bellaire High School and was a member of the marching band, where Ray went Marion High School and was on the football and baseball teams. They first met at the Bellaire Pool, where it was love at first sight for Ray! And so began a 51 year journey that has taken Randa and Ray from Bellaire High School, to a wedding aisle in 1971, to various Air Force bases (Ray served six years), to the birth of their children (Peter, Paul ‘98 and Charlotte ‘99) and grandchildren (Peter’s children are Mary Andrew, Thomas, and William; Charlotte’s children are Jacob, Emma, and Levi), to the halls of St. Pius X High School.
Ray is a true entrepreneur. His various business ventures include being a successful Manager for a Farmers Insurance group that consisted of over thirty-three agencies and founding Prime Institutional Group, an investment banking firm specializing in collateralized mortgage obligation securities. He also has been a long-time supporter of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo serving on the Wine Committee and two Calf Scramble Committees. He and Randa often purchase several calves for the scramblers every year and several steers at the auction. At this year’s Rodeo, they purchased the champion wine at the Wine Auction.
Despite running several businesses and supporting the Houston community, Ray has served in a variety of leadership roles at SPX. He was the treasurer of the Booster Club, served six years as a School Board member and currently serves on the SPX Foundation Board of Trustees. As a member of the SPX School Board Facilities Committee, Ray was instrumental in replacing the windows in the Hudson Gym, upgrading the lights in the Herzstein Gym, replacing the window air conditioning units in the classrooms with a quiet, efficient mini-split air conditioning system, equipping the classrooms with energy efficient windows, upgrading the baseball score board, and revamping the weight room and supplying state-of-the-art equipment for the SPX athletes.
There is a saying that “behind every great man is a great woman”. Randa has been a source of quiet strength and inspiration for her family -- her input and support have been invaluable contributions to the many successes of Ray and her children. Randa also has been a big supporter of SPX – she was often seen working in the football, baseball and volleyball concession stands, feeding the football team before the Friday night lights were turned on, and cheering on Charlotte and Paul when they took the volleyball court, football field or baseball diamond.
One of Ray and Randa’s special gifts to St. Pius X High School is the Paul A. Gilliam ’98 Learning Center. Their son Paul benefitted from the nurturing component of the challenging curriculum at SPX that became the Learning for Success Program. Prior to his passing in 2010 at the young age of 30, Paul started his own energy audit business after graduating from college and married his high school sweetheart, Crissy Zarzana. The Learning Center is a lasting legacy to Randa and Ray’s love for Paul and SPX that will benefit students at the corner of Shepherd and West Donovan for many years.
Randa and Ray are devout Catholics who, as evidenced in their support of St. Pius X, believe in the importance of Catholic education. Their generous support of the SPX financial aid program has enabled many students to receive the benefits of a Catholic education at SPX. They also are grooming future Panthers, as several of their grandchildren attend St. Rose of Lima Elementary School!
The St. Pius X Foundation, the Dominican Sisters and the entire SPX community are humbled, honored and blessed to be the recipients of Randa and Ray’s generosity and compassion. Thank you, Randa and Ray, for all you have done and continue to do for St. Pius X High School!
2018 Gala Honoree
SPX Faculty & Staff
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate the SPX Faculty and Staff by presenting them with the 2018 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
Teachers are the backbone of progress in society and have one of the most challenging and fulfilling jobs—literally shaping the lives and minds of future generations. Long hours and hard work go into their classrooms – creating challenging lessons, guiding students and engaging with families, and collaborating with colleagues. And then there’s all the time put in after class – leading athletic or academic teams and clubs or performances, and staying up-to-date on research and changes in their fields of expertise and education.
But most teachers would agree that it’s worth it to see that spark of understanding in a young adult’s eyes. Sometimes that spark is immediate – a student grasps a complex math or science concept, throws a better pitch, finds their voice on stage or writes an award-winning essay. Other times, the effects that teachers have can be long-term – helping students learn to better question their own understanding and the world around them, teaching them to know right from wrong and deciding how they can impact those ideas, and guiding them as they decide what path their life will go on. A teacher’s everyday action impacts students every day for the rest of their lives.
Everyone has at least one teacher or staff member that they remember fondly and knows just what an impact that person had on his/her life. That one faculty member who helped lay the foundation to shape the person of today, who helped drive home truths and cast away doubts. Without that person, lives would have traveled vastly different paths.
So, thank you, SPX faculty and staff. Thank you for sharing your passion for language, music, literature, math, science, theater, religion, history, and so many other subjects with our students. Thank you for doing this work without the expectation of a much deserved thank you. We celebrate and thank you for the vital role that you play in supporting students and strengthening the future.
2017 Gala Honoree
Sister Donna M. Pollard, O.P.
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate Sister Donna M. Pollard, O.P. by presenting her with the 2017 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
Sister Donna M. Pollard, O.P. is Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Houston.
Sr. Donna grew up in Queens in New York City and graduated from St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, N.Y. Sister Donna earned a B.S. from the University of Houston in secondary education, an M.A. from Aquinas Institute in systematic theology in St. Louis, Mo., and an M.Ed. from Boston College in private school administration.
In 1980, she began her career at St. Pius X High School as biology teacher and coach. After two years of study, in 1985, Sr. Donna returned to St. Pius X as science teacher, department chair, and the School’s varsity women’s basketball and assistant volleyball coach. She then served at St. Agnes Academy as a teacher, varsity track, assistant basketball coach and Dean of Students from 1988-91.
In 1991, she assumed the responsibility as St. Pius X’s Head of School/Principal and continued in that ministry for 25 years (until 2016). As Head of School, Sr. Donna doubled enrollment, expanded curricular offerings and programs for students who need academic assistance, augmented the service learning, athletic and extra-curricular programs, increased faculty and staff benefits and expanded and improved the facilities and campus through the completion of several capital campaigns including the $13 million School renovation and construction of the Raye G. and Edward P. White Center for the Sciences and Media (opened fall 2016). As a member of the St. Pius X High School Board of Directors and Foundation Board of Trustees, Sr. Donna partners with the Board and the School administration as they inspire the mission and vision of the School while ensuring that the SPX community embraces the Dominican charism as they “Teach Truth and Preach Justice” in the world today. As Head of School, Sr. Donna was a member of the Dominican Association of Secondary Schools, the National Catholic Education Association, Houston Association of Independent Schools, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Phi Kappa Phi, John Paul II Catholic School Board of Directors, has served on the National Catholic Education Association Secondary School’s Executive Committee as representative for Region 10 (TX, OK, AK), and has been a chairperson for the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department Visiting Team for Accreditation.
A recipient of numerous awards, Sr. Donna holds the NCEA Catholic Secondary Schools Department Award, KHOU Channel 2 Sunshine Award, 2006 St. Anne Catholic School Crusader Award, 2013 St. Ambrose Catholic School Te Deum Laudamus Award, Texas Christian Interscholastic League (T.C.I.L.) Coach of the Year Award and Track State Champion Coach (two years), and the Bishop Francis Mugavero Award (Brooklyn Diocese).
2016 Gala Honorees
Teri and Mike O’Connor
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate Teri and Mike O’Connor by presenting them with the 2016 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
Teri was born in Dayton, Ohio, the youngest of three sisters and was raised in the Cleveland area. Mike was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third of seven children (six boys and one girl) and moved to the Cleveland area in the late 1960s. Mike and Teri crossed paths in 1974 when Mike was smitten with the cute attendant at the Richfield Dairy Queen. That serendipitous meeting finally resulted in a first date (it took five tries!) after a Friday night football game between Teri’s Brecksville Bees and Mike’s Independence Blue Devils (the Blue Devils pulled out a 3-0 upset victory). And so began a 42-year journey that has taken Mike and Teri from Bowling Green State University (Mike graduating in 1979 and Teri in 1980) to a wedding aisle in 1980, to the birth of their children, to a move to Houston in 2004, to the halls of St. Pius X High School.
Mike has spent 30 years in the petroleum marketing business, now proudly working for Houston-based Phillips 66. Teri was a retail executive with The Limited Stores, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue before retiring to manage the busy lives of her family. When Mike was transferred to Texas from Arizona, Kelly was a 16-year-old sophomore and Kyle was in eighth grade. Finding the right environment for two teenagers was their biggest concern. As devout Catholics, Catholic education was important to Teri and Mike and thanks to divine intervention, they found their way to St. Pius X High School from their home in The Woodlands.
Kelly ’06 and Kyle ’08 instantly became an integral part of the SPX community when they moved to Houston – Kelly was a cheerleader and Kyle was a leader on the football and baseball fields. Teri also quickly and whole heartedly embraced the SPX community. She served on multiple school committees, worked in the football concession stand, was instrumental in establishing “Project Prom” and lent her creative talents wherever the school needed them. Teri’s incredible energy, “can do” spirit and infectious smile make everyone who volunteers with her feel like a special, valued friend.
Mike has served in a variety of leadership roles at SPX. He was president of the Booster Club, served six years as a School Board member, served as School Board Chair for three years and currently serves on the St. Pius X Foundation Board of Trustees. His quiet, confident leadership style led SPX through the buildout of the Paul A. Gilliam ’98 Learning Center and the initiation of the Set the World Ablaze capital campaign.
Their children’s graduation from St. Pius X High School has not diminished the time and energy Mike and Teri have devoted to our community. Teri has served on the Gala Committee for 12 years and has chaired the Gala three times – after her children left the halls of SPX. Mike recently served as the Chair of the Head of School Search Committee. And like their parents, Kelly and Kyle continue to bless SPX with their time, talent and treasures.
Mike and Teri have said that they are humbled to follow in the paths of the prior honorees who have done so much for the students on the corner of Shepherd and Donovan. However, it is the St. Pius X Foundation, the Dominican Sisters and the entire SPX community who are humbled, honored and blessed to be the recipients of Teri and Mike’s enthusiasm, compassion and generosity. Thank you, Teri and Mike, for all you have done and continue to do for St. Pius X High School!
2015 Gala Honorees
Cheryl & mel myers '61
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to celebrate Cheryl and Mel Myers ’61 by presenting them with the 2015 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
Mel is a native Houstonian. He began his journey with the Dominican Sisters at Christ the King Catholic School and continued his Catholic education at St. Pius X High School, where he was a star football, baseball and basketball player, and a member of the third graduating class in 1961. Mel then became an Aggie, graduating from Texas A&M University in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Cheryl is a native of St. Martinville, La., and holds an associate’s degree in business administration from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. It was love at first sight when Mel met Cheryl at a Fourth of July picnic in Louisiana in 1965. They were married five months later and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year on Dec. 4.
Cheryl and Mel have generously been involved with St. Pius X High School for many years. All three of their children (Wendy ’84, Melanie ’87 and Brian ’93) attended SPX and, like their father, participated in SPX athletics. Cheryl has spent countless hours volunteering on various projects and events at SPX, especially the former SPX Bazaar where she and Mel chaired the headquarters booth for many years. Cheryl’s kind-hearted spirit and positive attitude made everyone want to serve on a committee with her and become her friend.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Mel began his career at Dee Brass Foundry, a Houston based operation that provides the oil industry with corrosion resistant aluminum and bronze. By the time he retired in 2012, Mel had worked in almost every position at the company – he was production assistant, personnel director, foundry superintendent and ultimately in 1985 he became the sole owner and CEO of the newly named Dee Foundries, Inc.
Mel did not save all of his time, energy and dedication for his family and his career. His strong commitment to Catholic education and the Dominican Sisters is evidenced by his being a founding member of the St. Pius X Foundation (and the only original member still serving on its Board of Directors) and by serving as School Board president at Seton Catholic Junior High and St. Pius X. His dedication and loyalty to SPX is also extraordinary. Since 1989, students and fans have known Mel as the “Voice of the Fighting Panther Football Team.” No one who attends a football game at SPX can imagine Friday night without Mel in the press box that now bears his name.
The St. Pius X Foundation, the Dominican Sisters and the entire SPX community are blessed to have Cheryl and Mel’s kindness and generosity grace our community. Thank you, Cheryl and Mel, for sharing your time, talent and treasures with St. Pius X High School.
2014 Gala Honorees
Beth & jim Black
The Dominican Sisters and St. Pius X High School Foundation are deeply honored and proud to present the 2014 Del Sarto Humanitarian Award to Beth and Jim Black.
Beth was born in Michigan and moved to San Antonio, Texas, as a young child. Eventually, her family moved to the Houston area. Jim was born and raised in Fall River, Mass., before moving to Houston in 1975. Their two sons, Andrew ’05 and Adam ’07, both attended SPX where they excelled in academics and athletics.
Shortly after graduating from Galena Park High School in 1986, Beth began her career with Moran-Gulf Shipping Agencies, where she met and fell in love with Jim. After marrying in 1986, they moved to The Woodlands. As Andrew and Adam were growing up, Beth dedicated herself to their education and extracurricular activities, becoming an active participant in PTA’s, CCD and all of their sports activities from ORWALL, YMCA, SCFL and eventually to St. Pius X High School football. She has spent countless hours volunteering at their schools and at St. Simon and Jude Parish in The Woodlands on various events and projects. Beth is also known among family and friends for her thoughtfulness, generosity and her kind and friendly demeanor – qualities that have meant much to St. Pius X and extend well beyond its borders.
Upon completion of his studies in business administration at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Jim joined the Moran family of companies in 1974. The following year he moved to Houston to manage the company’s expansion to the Gulf Coast. Under Jim’s leadership as President and CEO, Moran Shipping Agencies has experienced dramatic growth, becoming the largest independent steamship agency in North America. During his illustrious career, Jim has enjoyed active affiliations with many associations and organizations. He currently serves as chairman of the West Gulf Maritime Association and serves on the board of directors of the Greater Houston Port Bureau. He is past president of The Woodlands Country Club Golf Association and chairman emeritus of the SPX High School Board. Jim is the current president/chairman of the St. Pius X High School Foundation Board of Trustees.
Jim and Beth’s commitment to SPX has continued beyond the graduation of their two sons. It has manifested itself through financial support, fundraising and providing guidance and sage advice to important and noteworthy school projects.
HONORING OUR COMMUNITY
Giuseppe Del Sarto, or better known as Pope Pius X, was known for his great humanitarian acts, especially those relating to children. Each honoree has made a significant impact in our community and we are proud to have honored them with the Del Sarto Humanitarian Award.
- Sister Donna M. Pollard, O.P.
- Teri & Mike O'Connor
- Cheryl & Mel Myers '61
- Beth and Jim Black
- Anna Marie and Harold Hidalgo, Sr. '59/'59
- Trini Mendenhall
- Mary Louise and Edgar Hancock ‘62/’62
- Lindy and John Rydman
- Cathryn and Arthur Holland
- Anna Babin
- The Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, D.D.
- E. Michael Lallinger Family and the
- Dominican Sisters of Houston
- Marilyn and George DeMontrond & Raye and Ed White
- Kathyrn and George Martinez
- Margaret M. Alkek* and Margaret Alkek Williams
- Joan and Dr. Joseph Lucci
- Nanette and Jerry Finger
- Julia Anderson Frankel
- Patrick Moran
- Poppy and Peter Doyle
- The Marek Family and Albert Herzstein
- Ross Dinyari
- J.M. Clepper ‘63