Missouri S&T announces 2023 Honorary St. Pats, Honorary Knights and parade marshal

Posted by
On March 8, 2023

St. Pat's Parade Honorary Knight Dave Westenberg

Honorary Knight Dave Westenberg prepares to throw necklaces to the crowd at the St. Pat’s parade in downtown Rolla on March 19, 2022.

The St. Pat’s Board at Missouri S&T has named Tom Green and Bob Fitzsimmons as Honorary St. Patricks, both in memoriam, for the 115th annual “Best Ever” St. Pat’s celebration. The board also announced the parade marshal for the 2023 St. Pat’s Parade and the Honorary Knights of St. Patrick.

Dr. Will Zwikelmaier will serve as parade marshal. The parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 18, at the intersection of 6th and Rolla streets. The parade will travel east to Pine Street, north on Pine to 11th Street, west on 11th Street to Rolla Street, and south on Rolla Street, to finish at 9th Street.

The nine Honorary Knights will be honored during a coronation ceremony at 9 p.m. Friday, March 17, at Leach Theatre in Castleman Hall, located at 403 W. 10th St. in Rolla. They will also participate in the St. Pat’s Parade.

The 2023 Honorary Knights are Bridgette Betz, Dr. Simon Bronner, Ashley Brooks, Dr. Kate Drowne, Sean Fagan, Stacey Mahaney, Dr. Colin Potts, Dr. V.A. Samaranayake, and Ellis Short. The honorary knights will also participate in the St. Pat’s Parade.

Biographical details on this year’s honorees are provided below.

Honorary St. Pat Tom Green (in memoriam)

Thomas E. Green, who lived in Rolla, Missouri, owned and operated Key Sport Shop with his family for 40 years, helping serve the St. Pat’s Board by providing sweatshirts and making arrangements for the Honorary Knights to ride in Corvettes during the annual parade. He passed away in 2021. He was 74.

Green graduated from Rolla High School in 1965 and joined the U.S. Army Reserve, serving for six years with a rank of Sergeant. He then joined the Labors Local #840 union and served on the board of directors. He was a member of the National Corvette Restoration Society.

Green was named an Honorary Knight in 1990 and served as an honorary member of the St. Pat’s board. He was also an honorary member of S&T’s Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Tau Omega chapters. Green’s wife, Alisa Green, was named an Honorary Knight in 2017, and daughter Stacey Mahaney will be knighted this year.

Honorary St. Pat Bob Fitzsimmons (in memoriam)

Robert (Bob) Fitzsimmons, who lived in Rolla, Missouri, was the official St. Pat’s photographer from 1961 to 2005, chronicling all St. Pat’s festivities. He passed away in 2022. He was 78.  

His photography career began as a teenager working at the Rolla Daily News. He was on the newspaper staff in 1960 – the year he graduated from high school – when he was first assigned to cover St. Pat’s. Fitzsimmons later cofounded Bradford and Fitzsimmons Photography Studio in Rolla. He also retired after 20 years of working at Fort Leonard Wood, where his duties included medical photography.

Fitzsimmons was named an Honorary Knight in 1996. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Sharon Fitzsimmons, from 1962 until his death, and they had one child, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Parade Marshal Will Zwikelmaier

Will Zwikelmaier
Will Zwikelmaier

Dr. Will Zwikelmaier of Rolla, Missouri, director of career opportunities and employer relations (COER) at Missouri S&T, joined S&T in 2015 and has worked in four departments. In addition to COER, he served in student diversity initiatives, educational technology and human resources. He earned a doctor of education with an emphasis in STEM enhancement from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

When Zwikelmaier first moved to Rolla as a high school band director in 2006, he and fellow band director and Honorary Knight John Slowensky participated in the court arrival by bringing a group of raucous high school Dixieland musicians over each year. They also brought the entire band to the parade every year.

Zwikelmaier’s in-laws are Honorary Knights: Dr. Chris Ramsay, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical engineering from S&T in 1983 and 1985, and Darlene Ramsay, who earned a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from S&T in 1984. Their daughters served as a coronation page and a flower girl in the 1990s.

Zwikelmaier and his wife, Dr. Lauren Zwikelmaier, have two children.

2023 Honorary Knights

Honorary Knight Bridgette Betz

Bridgette Betz of Rolla, Missouri, director of student financial assistance at Missouri S&T, began work at S&T in 2005. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business and management systems from S&T in 2005. In 2009, she earned an MBA from Webster University.

Betz became a certified financial aid administrator in 2019. She participates in state, regional and national financial aid associations and holds elected and committee chair positions. She has advocated for financial aid programs and college access for students in Missouri and nationally.

Betz chaired the S&T Staff Council in 2012. While a student, she participated in the first group of PRO Leaders, who are student mentors for new S&T students.

Betz and her husband, Terry Betz, have two children and three grandchildren.

Honorary Knight Simon Bronner

Dr. Simon Bronner of Waukesha, Wisconsin, dean of the College of General Studies and Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, served as the Maxwell C. Weiner Visiting Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Missouri S&T from 2018 to 2019.

Bronner participated in S&T’s 150th celebration by presenting on the history and culture of St. Pat’s. While at S&T, Kappa Alpha Order named him “professor of the month” in April 2019. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Binghamton University, a master’s degree in American folk culture from SUNY Oneonta, and a Ph.D. in folklore and American studies from Indiana University.

The author and editor of over 40 books and 300 essays in eight languages, Bronner has taught at Harvard University, Leiden University in the Netherlands, Osaka University in Japan, and Penn State University. He has received grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts.

Bronner and his wife, Sally Bronner, have two children.

Honorary Knight Ashley Brooks

Ashley Brooks of Rolla, Missouri, is executive director of The Rolla Mission. The charity served over 100,000 meals to the hungry in the local community and has helped over 300 people – including veterans, families, domestic assault survivors and youth – out of homelessness. She has also acquired federal grants to invest in building communitywide systems to help families out of poverty.

Brooks has met several S&T students and faculty who volunteer and host fundraisers to benefit The Rolla Mission, including the St. Pat’s Board, which recently hosted a winter coat drive.

Brooks earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration and human resources, both from Columbia College. In 2020, she was named Champion of the Year by the State of Missouri Crisis Intervention Team. 

Brooks and her husband, Patrick Brooks, have three children.

Honorary Knight Kate Drowne

Dr. Kate Drowne of Rolla, Missouri, special assistant to the provost for faculty development, joined the Missouri S&T faculty in English and technical communication in 2001. Her previous roles include associate dean and interim dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business.

Drowne earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Colby College in Waterville, Maine; a master’s degree in English from the University of Connecticut in Storrs; and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She was named Missouri S&T’s Woman of the Year in 2009 and inducted into the university’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019.

Drowne and her husband, Dr. Patrick Huber, historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, have two children.

Honorary Knight Sean Fagan

Police Chief Sean Fagan, of Rolla, Missouri, has led the city’s police department since 2015. His son, John, is a 2014 Missouri S&T graduate.

Fagan is president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management of criminal justice from Concordia University and a master’s degree in administration of criminal justice from Louisville University. He is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston.

Fagan and his wife, Karen Fagan, have three children.

Honorary Knight Stacey Mahaney

Stacey Mahaney of Rolla, Missouri, a sales professional at BSN Sports and an assistant manager at Maurice’s, both in Rolla, is a lifelong resident of Rolla. She graduated from Rolla High School in 1986.

Mahaney estimates that she has been affiliated with Missouri S&T for 44 years – 40 at Key Sport Shop and the last four years with BSN Sports. She worked at Key Sport Shop alongside her late father, Tom Green, who helped serve the St. Pat’s Board by providing sweatshirts and making arrangements for the Honorary Knights to ride in Corvettes during the annual parade. Green and his wife, Alisa Green, are both Honorary Knights.

Mahaney has served as president of the Rolla Lioness Club and as a member of the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She has two adult children and one granddaughter.

Honorary Knight Colin Potts

Dr. Colin Potts, of Rolla, Missouri, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of computer science at Missouri S&T, joined Missouri S&T in 2021.

He previously served Georgia Tech for 28 years, most recently as vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of interactive computing. According to Stanford University, Potts is one of the top 2% of published authors in his field of software engineering. He was a member of the General Education Council for the state of Georgia, has served as president of the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities and is former editor-in-chief of Requirements Engineering.

Potts earned a bachelor’s degree from Durham University in England and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Sheffield in England. At Georgia Tech he received the Geoffrey G. Eichholz faculty teaching award and the Modern Day Aristotle award from student ambassadors.

He is also a photographer. He and his wife, poet Karen Head, were awarded a Prix Résidence Moulin à Nef by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2014 for a multimedia residency in Auvillar, France. A self-described “rusty chess player,” he held an official expert rating in the early 1990s – one level below master.

Potts and Head have one child.

Honorary Knight V.A. Samaranayake

Dr. V.A. Samaranayake of Rolla, Missouri, Chancellor’s Professor and Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of mathematics and statistics at Missouri S&T, joined the S&T faculty as assistant professor in 1983.

Samaranayake was named associate professor in 1989, professor in 2003, and Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor in 2013. In 2021, he retired from S&T as interim department chair. He holds a Ph.D. in statistics from Kansas State University.

In 2017, Samaranayake was designated a fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Samaranayake and his wife, Yolanda Samaranayake, have two children.

Honorary Knight Ellis Short

Ellis Short of Boca Raton, Florida, chief investment officer and chair at Kildare Partners, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Missouri S&T in 1983. 

Short was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity at S&T and served on the Interfraternity Council. He considers the greatest honor of his life as being selected a Student Knight by his fraternity brothers and being thrown into Alice during the St Pat’s celebrations of 1983.

Short began his career in 1983 at General Electric, where he spent 10 years. He held various positions and served as president at Lone Star Funds Group. In 2013, he founded Kildare Partners.  

Short and his wife, Eve Zimmerman Short, have one child.

Share this page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One thought on “Missouri S&T announces 2023 Honorary St. Pats, Honorary Knights and parade marshal”

  • Judy O'Connor says:

    YAY Stacey!! No one has worked any harder in preparing/organizing for the St Pats sweatshirts over the past 40 some years! She certainly deserves this honor.