Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal

Formerly known as the Citation of Merit

The Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal is the school’s highest alumni honor and is given each year to a person whose life work best typifies the school motto: Not to be ministered unto but to minister. The recipient’s life and actions must demonstrate something humanitarian apart from a vocation or service. He or she must have gone above the ordinary demands of life or occupation. Success in a chosen field does not necessarily qualify a person for the honor. At the same time, it is possible for a person to be eminently successful and go beyond the call of duty to serve others.

An alumni committee meets each January to review names that have been recommended by fellow alums and to determine the recipient. Alumni are encouraged to put forth the name of an alumnus or alumna to be considered. Eligibility for the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal is also extended to those who are or have been connected with the school or who have shown special interest in Taft. Candidates must be living to receive the award. The award is bestowed at the Old Guard Dinner on Alumni Weekend.

All citations, since the award’s creation in 1960, hang in a place of honor along Main Hall. The Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal is a reminder of Taft’s commitment to serve others.

2013 Recipient of the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal and Citation of Merit

Rear Admiral Cynthia M. Thebaud
Class of 1981


As your family introduced you to the sea and sailing at an early age, a career as a naval officer might have been viewed as a logical step. Such was not the case in the 1970s. Early and courageous steps were to be taken: electing to attend a newly coeducational Taft, playing varsity field hockey, leading the Papyrus as editor-in-chief, serving as the finest sailor on a predominantly male sailing team, and achieving high honors throughout your career at Taft speaks to your intellect, determination, and skills as a leader. Upon graduation your advisor wrote, “I am heartened by your courageous selection of the Naval Academy. The experience will test you, but I have no doubt that you will be equal to the test.” Graduation with distinction from Annapolis, a master’s degree from the George Washington University, and honors at the Naval War College—training as the only female among 67 men seeking a place as an engineering officer—preceded service on ships throughout the world. Command of Destroyer USS Decatur in the midst of Operation Enduring Freedom, command of Destroyer Squadron 60 to provide security and build prosperity for West and Central Africa through the African Partnership Station, and membership of the Strategic Studies Group of the Chief of Naval Operations all prepared you for your selection as one of the first Surface Combatant women to be appointed as a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. Throughout your career, you have been deeply proud of the “Covenant of Leadership”—the moral and ethical imperative to be responsible for all who work with you. You have led a life of service to this nation and to keeping the peace throughout the world, exemplifying the enduring power of the Taft School motto: Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret. Today your school is deeply proud to present to you its highest award, the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal.


To nominate someone for the Taft Alumni Citation of Merit award

Simply send a message to CitationofMerit@TaftSchool.org.

Please include the person's name, class year, and the reason you think he or she should be considered.

Thank you.

Citation of Merit Awards

1960 Thomas D. Thacher, 1899

Robert A. Taft 1906

Charles P. Taft 1913

Henry N. Mallon 1913

Robert L. Johnson 1914

Linn F. Cooper 1917

Yale Kneeland, Jr. 1918

1961 Frederick H. Wiggin, Jr. 1899

J. Irwin Miller 1927

1962 M. Heminway Merriman 1897

Mason W. Gross 1929

1963 Mr. & Mrs. Paul Cruikshank

1964 Austin D. Barney 1914

1965 Sherman Baldwin 1914

1966 Francis O. Ayres 1927

1967 Harold Howe, II 1936

1968 John M. Schiff 1921

1969 Henry S.F. Cooper, M.D. 1913

1970 Barclay Robinson 1915

1971 James I. Armstrong 1937

1972 John C. Esty, Jr.

1973 Harmar Brereton 1927

1974 John Lyman 1914

1975 Donald V. Buttenheim 1933

1976 John H. Mallon 1915

1977 Orin Lehman 1938

1978 Kate Peterson Mailliard

1979 Charles C. Finucane 1924

1980 E. Philip Snyder, Jr. 1938

1981 Henry L. Hillman 1937

1982 Deane Keller 1919

1983 Horace D. Taft 1943

1984 Andrew K. Marckwald 1930

1985 Robert W. Sweet 1940

1986 Henry W. Taft 1943

1987 Harold B. Whiteman, Jr. 1937

1988 Louis F. Laun 1938

1989 George H. Weyerhaeuser 1944

1990 Centennial Year-No award given

1991 Henry P. Becton 1933

1992 Maynard Mack 1927

1993 Katherine duPont Gahagan

1994 Peter R. Fink 1951

Charles E. Yonkers 1958

1995 William R. Duryee 1923

1996 William H. Risley 1935

1997 William A. Waldron 1931

1998 Lee Paul Klingenstein 1944

1999 Donald F. McCullough 1942

2000 H. Wick Chambers, Jr. 1927

2001 Lance R. and Patricia K. Odden

2002 Cheves M. Smythe 1942

2003 Alfred Gilman 1958

2004 Wesley S. Williams, Jr. 1959

2005 John L. Vogelstein 1952

2006 Samuel F. Pryor III 1946

2007 John A. Logan, Jr. 1942

2008 John S. Wold 1934

2009 John G.G. Merrow II 1959

2010 John Orb 1937

2011 Lowell Thomas, Jr 1942

2012 Rodman W. Moorhead 1962 (PDF)

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