Four MRH Grads Selected for 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame
The four new members of the Maplewood Richmond Heights Alumni Hall of Fame have devoted their lives to the performing arts and to the wellbeing of children.
In a ceremony on the evening of October 18, the Hall of Fame will welcome Lynne Fiddmont, Linda Robinson, Dr. Bonnie Paulsmeyer, and Linda Kennedy (posthumously).
Fiddmont, Class of 1978, grew up in Maplewood, part of a musical family. At MRH, she sang in the choir, was a member of the student executive committee, was on the cheerleading squad, and was selected for the homecoming court. After earning a degree in public relations, Lynne decided that her singing talent would direct her future. After many years of singing in clubs, she got a call during a pre-show sound check from a man who was looking for backup vocalists. That was the beginning of her partnership with Stevie Wonder, and the first major step on a path that would include performances alongside Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, Seal, Babyface, Rod Stewart, Kenny Loggins, Lou Rawls, Burt Bacharach and Chaka Khan. She has performed on American Idol and sung for Barack Obama at the White House. Lynne has won critical acclaim for her 2010 tribute to Billie Holiday called "Lady," and her 2006 release "Flow." Late last year, she released "Power of Love," a departure from her usual jazzy style into more rootsy songs. She lives in Los Angeles.
After graduating from Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in 1987, Linda Robinson got busy piling up degrees in business administration, communications, public relations, human resources and non-profit leadership. At that time, the world of high finance was a powerful lure. At A. G. Edwards and Sons, she worked her way up to management. She survived two mergers involving Wachovia and Wells Fargo Advisors. Robinson believed that money management and investing were ways to help families get on firm footing. But she was especially drawn to those who worked for non-profits. Robinson realized that what she loved about her job was leading and developing people, not the corporate culture and the trading floor. Today, her passion lies with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri as the Director of Volunteer Recruitment. Her task: recruit adults who want to be matched with kids who need an extra dose of friendship in their lives. The adults, called "Bigs," spend a few hours a month with the "Littles" going to carnivals, a movie, a picnic, the playground or just hanging around the house and enjoying one another's company. Robinson organizes and promotes community events which give potential Bigs an opportunity to see how the matching process works.
2019 marked the passing of a true giant in the local live theatre scene. Linda Kennedy, Class of 1970, died Friday, August 16 after a battle with cancer. Kennedy was a driving force behind the Black Rep for more than 30 years. She held the title of "Artistic Associate," which placed her in charge of community programs and performing arts workshops for youth. The Summer Performing Arts program teaches youngsters everything from the business side of acting to how to effectively promote a production. On the acting side, Kennedy wowed audiences with her nuanced performances in shows such as "Chef," the story of an inmate who recounts her life's painful memories while working in the prison kitchen, and "Windmill Baby," in which Kennedy played a dozen separate characters -- including a dog -- in a one-woman show. The Riverfront Times in 2014 called it a "tour de force performance." Shortly before her passing, Kennedy fondly recalled a few "firsts" from her time at MRH. Her first school play was a production of "Finian's Rainbow," a musical which opened to raves when it debuted in 1947. She was the first black MRH cheerleader. Her graduating class in 1970 featured the first black student council president and first black homecoming queen. She is survived by a granddaughter who will graduate from MRH in 2020, and a grandson who works backstage at the Black Rep.
Dr. Bonnie G. Baranyai Paulsmeyer, Class of 1964, left the education field in 2006, but education did not leave her. The former Early Childhood Center principal and teacher spent 30 years in school houses, all of those with MRH except for a brief stint in the Ritenour district in 1967. She served in a diverse set of roles: summer school organizer, elementary teacher, principal, and even private preschool director after retiring from MRH. In all, she spent 12 years as a principal, 18 years as a teacher, and 9 years as a director. The Maplewood Chamber of Commerce named her Educator of the Year in 1993. She is a member of countless professional organizations for educators. Her passion today lies with the Kiwanis Club of Maplewood, an international service organization dedicated to helping children. A member since 1988, Dr. Paulsmeyer organizes annual fundraisers such as a charity golf tournament and the famous Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, all raising money for MRH programs and scholarships. Privately, she is the founder of other scholarships in the name of her late brother Gary Baranyai and the late MRH educator Howdy Sanders. She has served on the Class of '64 reunion committee for 55 years. But most importantly, she is a past president of the St. Louis Morthers of Twins Club.
The MRH Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Oct. 18, at 6:00 p.m. in the MRH High School Theatre, 7539 Manchester Road in Maplewood, MO., 63143. Attendees are urged to arrive as early as 5:30 p.m. to mingle and enjoy light snacks and beverages in the theatre lobby. Use the theatre entrance off of Martini Drive on the east side of the High School building. Also during that ceremony, a bronze plaque honoring 1960s graduates who served during the Vietnam era will be dedicated. The plaque was made possible via a fundraising effort spearheaded by Dr. Paulsmeyer and other members of the classes of the 1960s.
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.