You can call these people Scouting legends. Or maybe Scouting Hall of Famers.
Whatever you call them, call me grateful for their incredible service to the Boy Scouts of America.
The 2015 Silver Buffalo class consists of 13 Scouting volunteers whose tireless service and dedication to Scouting on a national level has earned them the BSA’s highest honor for adults.
The recipients include Andrew J. Young, former Atlanta mayor and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Glenn A. Adams, president of the National Eagle Scout Association; Larry M. Gibson, recently released first counselor in the LDS Church’s Young Men general presidency; and 10 other outstanding Scouters.
You can read about all 13 recipients below. Each has led an impressive life and has blessed Scouting with his time, talents and treasure.
Tonight, at a special recognition ceremony at the National Annual Meeting in Atlanta, these men will receive their red-and-white medals.
They’ll join a prestigious list of Silver Buffalo recipients that includes Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, Eagle Scout Gerald Ford and 15 other U.S. presidents, actor Jimmy Stewart, comedian Bob Hope, astronaut Neil Armstrong, baseball player Ernie Banks, and many, many more who have kept Scouting strong for more than a century.
Here are the recipients and why they were selected:
2015 Silver Buffalo Award recipients
Glenn A. Adams
Fort Worth, Texas
In 2009, the National Eagle Scout Association established the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award to recognize valuable service of an exceptional nature by a Scout to a school, community, religious institution, or other entity.
The creation of this annual award would not have happened, says Mr. Adams, without the support and encouragement of his amazing wife, Melinda, and the commitment to Scouting, service, and leadership set by Glenn’s father, Bill, a former National Executive Board member and also a Silver Buffalo Awardee.
No apple has fallen far from the tree. This family boasts three Eagle Scout sons and a daughter who is a commissioned professional district executive.
Glenn Thomas Ault, M.D.
Hacienda Heights, Calif.
Dr. Glenn Ault proudly remembers leading a fantastic team of committed volunteers as the chief medical officer for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, the inaugural jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in the wilds of West Virginia.
Dr. Ault is an associate professor of surgery and vice dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He enjoys teaching medical students and residents as they pursue their careers in medicine and surgery.
He has served as medical director for the Los Angeles Marathon and as chairman of the USC advisory committee to the 2015 World Games of the Special Olympics.
Richard Paul Bragga
In his 56 years as a Scouter, Rick Bragga has excelled in more than a score of volunteer positions, from Scoutmaster and unit commissioner to National Advisory Council member and chair of the National Scouting Museum.
Of all his many accomplishments, however, Mr. Bragga takes special satisfaction in having helped to start and advance the BSA Alumni program. Beyond Scouting, he has served youth through DeMolay International, an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives.
His interests also include photography, his family, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
J.S. “Si” Brown III
New Iberia, La.
Si Brown has a particular interest in promoting Scouting to create such high interest that young Scouts are excited and eager to remain long in the program as active members.
He is proud to promote the Eagle Scout rank and to help mentor Scouts who aspire to achieve the Eagle Scout badge.
Outside of Scouting, Mr. Brown has chaired the board of advisors of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. He has also served in Washington, D.C., on committees related to U.S. trade and agriculture. He received the President’s “E” Award for Exporting Excellence from President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and again in 1990 from President George H.W. Bush.
Larry M. Gibson
Larry Gibson, recently released first counselor in the LDS Church’s Young Men general presidency, counts it a privilege to have lived long enough to now see the results of Scouting in the lives of so many young men as they have become great husbands, fathers, valued citizens, and assets to society. He takes true pleasure in seeing them passing this legacy on to the next generation.
In his 46 years as a Scouter, Mr. Gibson has served as Scoutmaster, chartered organization representative, council president, as a National Advisory Council member, and in many other volunteer capacities. A Scoutmaster for two national jamborees and one world jamboree, Mr. Gibson headed the LDS contingent to the 22nd World Scout Jamboree, held in Sweden in 2011.
Jeffery Q. Jonasen
Winter Garden, Fla.
Scouting, and particularly the Order of the Arrow, has given Jeff Jonasen an outlet for service that fills him with gratitude. He has enjoyed the privilege of working with his OA chiefs, the young men for whom he served as an advisor in the Order. He now knows them as adults and friends, starting careers and families. With this association, he is reminded of why he remains involved in Scouting, and the need to ensure that the children of those Arrowmen have the same opportunities and experiences that the Boy Scouts of America have provided to generations of youth.
Mr. Jonasen served as program deputy for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. His role in helping to create the new Summit jamboree program was an experience he describes as “amazing.” He remembers it as a unique opportunity to work with a clean slate and to dream alongside incredibly creative people, led by some of the most dedicated Scouters in the movement.
John Willis Lea IV
Dr. John Lea was deputy chief medical officer for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree and is set to serve as chief medical officer in 2017. A recently retired cardiac and thoracic surgeon, he was one of a team of three surgeons who performed the first cardiac transplant in Tennessee.
Dr. Lea also holds a Doctorate of Commissioner Science and has been recognized with the Distinguished Commissioner Service Award. He restarted the Middle Tennessee Council’s College of Commissioner Science after a 16-year absence.
In his youth, Dr. Lea attained the rank of Life Scout. He is especially proud that both of his sons, William and Graham, are Eagle Scouts.
Daniel B. Maxfield
For Dan Maxfield, Scouting is a brotherhood, a lifestyle, and a force for good in which he is proud to have fulfilled many roles in the course of his 50-year volunteer commitment. He has been a Cubmaster and a Scoutmaster; an Order of the Arrow chapter, lodge, and section advisor; a commissioner; and a member of the national Commissioner Support staff. He also served on the 2010 Boy Scout Handbook Task Force.
This Life Scout’s proudest Scouting achievement was getting his three sons to the rank of Eagle Scout with an experience at a jamboree or National Order of the Arrow Conference.
When Mr. Maxfield isn’t baby-sitting his grandson or coaching an aquatic swim team, this retired educator enjoys reading and fishing.
Arthur F. “Skip” Oppenheimer
In his Scouting service, Skip Oppenheimer has been guided by a fundamental and powerful goal: “Trying to help in some small way to create better communication and interactivity within various levels of the Scouting movement.”
Mr. Oppenheimer has a special interest in education. He is the founding chair of Idaho Business for Education, a not-for-profit organization of CEOs and company presidents who share a common goal of improving their state’s educational system in all aspects. The organization envisions an education system that produces graduates prepared for personal success and societal contribution in tomorrow’s dynamic workforce—goals fully aligning with the BSA vision of young people trained in citizenship, service, and leadership.
Robert J. Sirhal
Bob Sirhal began his 31 years of service as a Cubmaster. A direct line leads from that early volunteer experience to Mr. Sirhal’s most satisfying achievement in Scouting: his work in organizing and leading the National Basic Training Task Force in 2000 to rewrite the Cub Scout Leader Basic Training course.
Mr. Sirhal’s Scouting résumé reflects his deep interest and involvement in all phases of the Scouting program. He is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and he has served at the national level on the Cub Scout and Sea Scout Committees, as Order of the Arrow vice chair for training, as Jamboree Operations Group vice chair, and as chair of the Philmont Training Center Conferences Committee.
Bruce Robert Trefz
As a proud Scout parent, Dr. Bruce Trefz does not hesitate when asked to name the outstanding moment of his Scouting tenure. It was, he says, “watching his Eagle Scout son, Rob, lead the Eswau Huppeday Lodge Order of the Arrow dance team to their third national championship at NOAC.”
Dr. Trefz’s sphere of service extends well beyond the borders of these United States. He represented the Boy Scouts of America to the World Scout Bureau Educational Methods committee and world trainers network for six years, and at four World Scout Conferences. In his professional capacity as an oral surgeon, Dr. Trefz has made 11 medical mission trips to Haiti and Russia to repair facial clefts.
John C. Whitehead
New York City, N.Y.
In his eulogy to the late John C. Whitehead, Dr. Henry Kissinger remembered being the only non-Eagle Scout among Mr. Whitehead’s dinner guests. “Ever gracious,” said Dr. Kissinger, “John postponed until after dinner to draw my attention to this anomaly.”
Mr. Whitehead, who passed away on Feb. 7, 2015, was involved with Scouting for 80 years, serving the Greater New York Councils as board chair, president, and trustee.
The former Goldman Sachs co-chairman served as deputy secretary of state in the Reagan administration. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Whitehead served as the volunteer chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, tasked with rebuilding the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan. John Whitehead’s thoughtful and generous Scouting leadership left an indelible mark on hundreds of thousands of young people and their families.
Andrew J. Young
Ambassador Andrew J. Young fondly recalls being given his first Scout handbook when he was a young boy. He says that having been introduced to the Scout Oath and Scout Law was important to him and should be a gift that every boy receives.
Ambassador Young is a lifelong advocate for youth programs and youth development. In 2003, he founded the Andrew J. Young Foundation to support and promote education and leadership as well as world health and human rights.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. Among his Scouting recognitions is The Bobby Jones Community Leadership Award presented by the Atlanta Area Council. Ambassador Young has graciously served as nominating committee chairman for several Atlanta districts, was the Centennial Speaker for the council’s 2010 Friends of Scouting Breakfast, spoke at the God and Country Breakfast at the 1982 National Annual Meeting, and adddressed a generation of Scouting leaders as the keynote speaker at the 1986 Annual Meeting.
Photo by Roger Morgan/BSA