14 Scouters receive 2020 Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s top honor for volunteers

They’re leaders in their cities, in their businesses, in their faith communities and in Scouting. This year’s Silver Buffalo Award class combined has given more than 400 years of service to Scouting. These outstanding men and women join a long list of distinguished adult leaders dating back nearly 100 years.

The Silver Buffalo Award is the BSA’s highest recognition for adult volunteers, presented annually to those who give noteworthy national-level service to youth. The award was first presented in 1926; it comes with a red-and-white Silver Buffalo Award medal and a square knot for wear on the uniform. It has been bestowed to the founders of Scouting, professional athletes, business leaders, musicians and astronauts. See the list here.

This year’s award ceremony looked a little different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, the awards would’ve been presented in-person during the BSA’s annual meeting. Instead, they’ll be delivered at a later date. However, the 14 Scouters were recognized during a video presentation, which featured their comments:

Silver Buffalo Reception from Boy Scouts of America on Vimeo.

2020 Silver Buffalo Award recipients

  • Ronald L. Adolphi, National Capital Area Council (Maryland)*
  • Thomas S. Bain, Greater New York Councils (New York)*
  • Scott W. Beckett, Northern Star Council (Minnesota)*
  • Paul C. Bicket, Last Frontier Council (Oklahoma)*
  • Ned C. Gold, Great Trail Council (Ohio)*
  • Julia Mae-Shen Lesko, National Capital Area Council (Maryland)
  • Charles E. McGee, National Capital Area Council (Maryland)*
  • R. Doyle Parrish, Occoneechee Council (North Carolina)*
  • Lloyd Hugh Redd, National Capital Area Council (Maryland)
  • Brian Thiessen, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council (California)*
  • Michael L. Thompson, Blue Ridge Council (South Carolina)*
  • Frank Tsuru, Sam Houston Area Council (Texas)*
  • Billy W. Walley, Pine Burr Area Council (Mississippi)*
  • Charles D. Wurster, San Diego-Imperial Council (California)*

The * indicates the recipient is an Eagle Scout.

Ronald L. Adolphi

Williamsburg, Va.

Lifelong volunteer, Distinguished Eagle Scout, religious leader

His 56 years as a Scouter have offered him many opportunities to emphasize the importance of duty to God as a bedrock of Scouting and to influence others. A commissioned lay deacon and a member of both the care team and senior choir for the King of Glory Lutheran Church and School, Adolphi says that religion has played a major role in his Scouting life beginning with work on the Pro Deo et Patria Lutheran youth religious emblem. Later, he was the incorporator and first president of the National Lutheran Association on Scouting and a faculty member for several National Lutheran Conferences on Scouting at Philmont Training Center.

Since 1981, he has served actively on the National Religious Relationships Committee and its predecessor. He chaired the National Capital Area Council’s Protestant Committee on Scouting and the Northeast Region Religious Relationships Committee and also served in religious relationship staff roles at the 2005 and 2010 National Jamborees and the 24th World Jamboree.

Adolphi’s accolades include the National Duty to God Award, Silver Antelope, Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Lutheran Lamb Award and Silver Beaver Award. He is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. He has been recognized as a Second Century Society Lifetime Investor, a Founders Circle and Heritage Society member and a James E. West Fellow. Retired as a senior executive with the U.S. Department of Defense, Adolphi received the medal for Distinguished Civilian Service. Adolphi serves on the Colonial Virginia Council Executive Board as endowment chair.

Thomas S. Bain

New York, N.Y.

Distinguished Eagle Scout, financial technologist

Directing a regional Sabbath observant Wood Badge course serving Scouters of many faiths from three regions and 17 local councils was a watershed moment for Bain because it helped make this leadership training available to a hard-to-serve community. During his 40 years as a Scouter, he has been recognized as a Distinguished Eagle Scout and has received the International Scouter Award, Silver Antelope Award, Silver Beaver Award, Shofar Award and Distinguished Commissioner Service Award.

Bain has also been honored with the Order of the Arrow Centurion, Founder’s and Distinguished Service awards. At the national level, he has served 10 times on National Jamboree staff and 15 times on National Order of the Arrow Conference staff. He serves as the technology vice chair for the National Order of the Arrow Committee, which dovetails with his professional technology background. In the Northeast Region, he is Area 2 president, has been the Order of the Arrow chair, served eight times as section head for outdoor skills at National Camping School, and held positions as both staff and director of the Wood Badge course director conference.

A multi-decade managing director with BlackRock, a global investment firm, Bain is a member of the Information Systems Security Association, Association for Computing Machinery, ISACA, and IEEE, and holds three ISACA certifications.

Scott W. Beckett

Minneapolis, Minn.

Eagle Scout, Arrowman, Jamboree enthusiast

With 25 years in volunteer Scouting leadership, Beckett embraces the fundamental principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law and states that who he is and what he has in life “are a function of two things: Christ Jesus and the Boy Scouts of America.” He adds that Scouting has provided him with “a myriad of tools for leadership, management, and most importantly, for being prepared.”

Beckett is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the recipient of several Order of the Arrow awards including the Founder’s Award and the Distinguished Service Award, and an OA Legacy Fellow. As a youth, he served as national chief. In 2015, he was named an Order of the Arrow Centurion by two different lodges. He has been honored with the Silver Beaver Award and the Silver Antelope Award, and is a James E. West Fellow.

At the national level, he sits on the BSA’s National Executive Board. He served as the program director for the 24th World Scout Jamboree and was vice chair of program for two National Jamborees. Other responsibilities have included serving as program chair for two national Order of the Arrow service projects: SummitCorps and ArrowCorps5.

Paul C. Bicket

Edmond, Okla.

NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout, physician

Raising two sons who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout is Bicket’s proudest achievement in Scouting. And that speaks volumes as he has accomplished much in his 32 years in Scouting. A retired anesthesiologist who spent his career at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, Bicket has used his medical knowledge to staff four National Jamborees and served as the medical services chief of staff for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. He has volunteered internationally in roles at World Scout Jamborees in Chile, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Thailand, Sweden and Japan.

An Eagle Scout, Bicket is a member of the Second Century Society and has received the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, the Order of the Arrow Centurion Award, the Silver Antelope Award and the Silver Beaver Award. He served as a Wood Badge course director and is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Bicket has served as a Girl Scout badge counselor and been an Oklahoma crop award donor for the National FFA Organization. Professionally, he is past president of the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists.

Ned C. Gold Jr.

Warren, Ohio

NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout, visionary Scouter, attorney

Gold Jr. considers founding and organizing the Philmont Staff Association as his greatest achievement in his 60 years as a Scouter. In its 47-year history, the PSA’s membership, now numbering over 4,000, has raised millions of dollars for Philmont, built buildings, and funded camperships and staff scholarships. The members have continued their service to Philmont and Scouting by giving hundreds of thousands of hours. The PSA has spawned other high-adventure and council camp staff associations that have performed the same service for their respective camps.

Gold began his Scouting tenure as a Cub Scout in Santa Fe, N.M., at age 8. He has been instrumental in bringing the BSA art collection, including the Norman Rockwell paintings, out of storage and onto display at the Medici Museum of Art in his hometown. His family counts three generations of Eagle Scouts, with a fourth generation on its way. Seeing his children benefit from Scouting, especially on expeditions to Philmont, has brought him joy. His wife, Debbie, has been on three of these expeditions.

Gold is the recipient of the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, Philmont Staff Association Silver Sage Award and William H. Spurgeon III Award. He has also been honored with the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards and is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

He is the managing attorney of his law firm and has practiced law for 54 years, including four years while serving as an Air Force judge advocate. He is certified in labor and employment law under Ohio Supreme Court rules and has been recognized as an Ohio “Super Lawyer” for several years.

Julia Mae-Shen Lesko

Gainesville, Va.

Trainer, leader

A passionate trainer, Lesko has enjoyed her many opportunities in Scouting to develop and deliver training to youth and adult leaders. She developed training on three BSA national task forces: as chair of the Commissioner College Curriculum Update Task Force, as a member of the Wood Badge Update Task Force-Leadership Team and as a writer of original training materials for the Cub Scout Roundtable Planning Guide Task Force.

She serves as the national Wood Badge coordinator for Scouting U and the Northeast Region Wood Badge coordinator. During her 19 years as a Scouter, she has served as chair of the Northeast Region Wood Badge Course Director Conference, as course director for Wood Badge and for National Youth Leadership Training and as a Scouting volunteer in other leadership roles at the unit, district, council, region and national levels. She trained Scouts and Scouters from around the world at Philmont Training Center, Summit Bechtel Reserve, Florida Sea Base and National Order of the Arrow Conferences. She staffed three National Jamborees and a World Scout Jamboree.

Lesko is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and has received the Silver Beaver Award, Silver Antelope Award, District Award of Merit, Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award and numerous square knot training awards.

A past Fairfax County civil service commissioner and certified mediator, Lesko serves as deputy director for case management and attorney development at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Brigadier General Charles E. McGee

Bethesda, Md.

Distinguished Eagle Scout, Tuskegee Airman

Air Force Brigadier General McGee has spent a lifetime providing service to others. A career officer for more than 30 years, he flew more than 400 combat missions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. This represents one of the highest combat totals and longest active duty careers by any U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in history.

He is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal. In 2011, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. By focusing on the positive, he and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen did more than just serve — they opened doors for generations of people of color to serve in the military.

As a Scouter, he has been honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Silver Beaver Award. At the unit level, he has served as an assistant Scoutmaster and been on the district committee.

R. Doyle Parrish

Raleigh, N.C.

Eagle Scout, community leader

Parrish says Scouting’s transformational programs allow young people to “find their personal vision and duty to serve others, so their leadership can make a difference in their families, our communities, their profession and our nation.” Through his leadership, Parrish is able to make a difference by combining his love of the outdoors, passion for character development and drive for excellence.

A member of the Second Century Society and a James E. West Fellow, Parrish has been honored with the Silver Beaver and the God and Country awards. Nationally, Parrish serves on the National Executive Board, is vice president of National Adventures and is a trustee of the BSA National Foundation. He is a member of the NCAP and Supply Group committees and has served as master of ceremonies for the National Scout Museum–Philmont Scout Ranch.

Parrish, CEO of Summit Hospitality Group Ltd., has been responsible for multimillion-dollar property management, development and operation of hotels since 1985. Summit Hospitality operates properties under licenses from Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. Parrish also is active in industry and community concerns. He is past chairman of the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition, past chairman and past board member of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, and past president of Raleigh’s North Carolina Theatre. Parrish serves on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, the Wake Forest University Babcock School Board of Visitors, the Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina and the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Lloyd Hugh Redd

Great Falls, Va.

Investor, leader

Doing his duty to God, country and his fellow man is Redd’s greatest ambition, and the Scout Oath has been a guiding star for him. When he falls short, the Oath reminds him to do his best. He is proud of his family’s tradition of Scouting. A Life Scout himself with 12 years of adult service, Redd has two sons who are third-generation Life Scouts, two sons who are Eagle Scouts, a daughter who participated in Venturing and two sons-in-law who are also Eagle Scouts.

Redd is a member of the National Advisory Council and a former member of the National Executive Committee. He has served as a region president, council president, finance committee chair and assistant Scoutmaster. He is a James E. West Fellow and Second Century Society member and has received the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards.

A manager with Elk Dance Investments, he also serves as a director of Apple Hospitality REIT, a NYSE-listed company. He serves his community as vice chair of the board of trustees of Southern Virginia University. Other civic activities include having served as a board member of Everybody Wins DC, a youth mentoring and reading program in the District of Columbia.

Brian Thiessen

Alamo, Calif.

NESA Distinguished Eagle Scout, attorney

With over 60 years devoted to Scouting, Thiessen was not content just to volunteer locally and nationally, but also served as a Scoutmaster at the World Scout Jamboree in Australia, led Scouts to inter-American camporees and Jamborees in Guatemala and Brazil, and took Scouts to an international encampment in Siberia. Nationally, he has served on national BSA committees and led Scouts on two Philmont treks, to Florida Sea Base, and to Maine’s Matagamon. Thiessen has also staffed several National Jamborees and World Scout Jamborees.

As past president of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians, he has participated in Rotary conferences in the Americas, Asia, Eurasia and Europe, showing Rotarians how they can connect with their local Scouting organizations to better serve their communities. A Second Century Society member, Thiessen is most proud of having received the God and Country Award as an adult. He has been recognized as an Order of the Arrow Distinguished Scoutmaster and a Distinguished Eagle Scout and has received the Silver Beaver, Scouter’s Key and Cliff Dochterman awards. He is also a Baden-Powell Fellow and member of the European Scout Foundation, Olave Baden-Powell Society, Africa Scout Foundation and Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Foundation.

He served with the Strategic Air Command in the U.S. Air Force. He has also been named Citizen of the Year twice in his community. An attorney in private practice, Thiessen is the past president of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, was named alumnus of the year in 2000 by the University of California Hastings College of the Law and previously taught at the John F. Kennedy University College of Law.

Michael L. Thompson

Greenville, S.C.

Distinguished Eagle Scout, public servant

For Thompson, it is more gratifying to honor others in Scouting for their dedication and commitment than to receive recognition himself. His service includes tenure as the vice chair of the national Order of the Arrow committee and as the U.S. team leader for operations, logistics, human resources and training for the 24th World Scout Jamboree. He is also a member of the National Membership Standards Committee and the Churchill Task Force. Regionally, he has been a vice president, executive board member, chair of the NESA scholarship selection committee and chair of the membership standards committee.

During his 35 years as a Scouter, Thompson, who is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, has received several awards including the Order of the Arrow’s Centurion, Founder’s and Distinguished Service awards. He has also been honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards.

A firm believer in public service, Thompson was an assistant to former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr.; the director of legislative affairs for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, including tenure as a gubernatorial appointee to the DNR Law Enforcement Advisory Board; and the commissioner/CEO of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. He is an administrator for the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Frank Tsuru

Houston, Texas

NESA Distinguished Eagle Scout, engineer

Tsuru’s parents felt strongly that giving back to Scouting was integral to his upbringing. They believed that next to military service, being a Scout was the best way to learn the principles and values necessary to becoming a great American. Tsuru has been blessed to travel across the country challenging newly minted Eagle Scouts to repay those who helped them along the trail to becoming an Eagle Scout while reinforcing the need to fiercely defend the Scout Oath and Scout Law. He believes that the accomplishment of earning the Eagle rank is not the end of the process but merely the beginning.

He is most proud of spearheading the Camp Strake relocation project for the Sam Houston Area Council, of which he is the past chair. He serves on the BSA’s National Executive Board and is president of the National Eagle Scout Association. A 2014 recipient of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Tsuru is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. He has been named a NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Eagle Scout.

Tsuru is active in the community, where he sits on the board of directors for Yellowstone Academy and is vice chair of the Star of Hope Mission. Additionally, he volunteers for Family Legacy Missions International, a Christian-based orphan ministry in Zambia, Africa.

Billy W. Walley

Picayune, Miss.

NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout, attorney

As chaplain of the National Order of the Arrow Committee, Walley is proud of having developed many religious services that can be used at chapter and lodge events. He has coordinated services at national Scouting events and developed the Order of the Arrow Grace, which is used at all Order of the Arrow events. He has had key roles at 18 National Order of the Arrow Conferences, and also worked on the Philmont Scout Ranch accreditation team.

Walley has been honored with the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award and the Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service and Founder’s awards. He is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and a James E. West Fellow. During his 47 years as a Scouter, he has been a faculty member at Philmont Training Center on four occasions and also served as quartermaster.

An attorney in private practice, he is a member of the local and state bar associations. For several years, he served as chair of the Mississippi Methodist Conference in charge of implementing Scouting programs throughout the state. Other civic activities include being a member of the Picayune Rotary Club, sitting on the Crosby Memorial Library Board and serving as president of the North Pearl River County Chamber of Commerce.

Charles D. Wurster

San Diego, Calif.

Vice Admiral, USCG (Retired); NESA Distinguished Eagle Scout

The Scout Oath and Scout Law have served as the guiding light in Wurster’s life, professional career and volunteer service. An honors graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who served in the Coast Guard for 37 years, Wurster has had many opportunities to exemplify these principles. His final military assignment was as commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area. He then served as president/CEO of the Unified Port of San Diego.

Reflecting his maritime experience and interest in safe boating, he was pivotal in modernizing the Sea Scout program as it obtained full program status, distinct from Venturing. This entailed updating the Sea Scout Manual, e-media, rank requirements and training; establishing the new uniform and insignia; adding paddle sports and partnering with maritime entities. Additionally, he helped establish the National Organization of Sea Scout Alumni and the National Youth Quarterdeck, a national forum for Sea Scout youth.

With 28 years as a Scouter, Wurster has been honored with the National Sea Scout Leadership Award, the Finlay Award, the Silver Beaver Award, and both the Seabadge and Seabadge Underway pins. He has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Scoutmaster Award of Merit and earned his Wood Badge. Nationally, he has served as Sea Scout committee chair and commodore and has been a member of the Venturing and Florida Sea Base committees. He served as the sponsor of the Coast Guard contingent to the 2005 National Jamboree.

About Michael Freeman 201 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.