Lutheran High School West News Article

Lutheran West Alumni Authors

by Debi Albrecht '85, Alumni Director

Lutheran High School West is proud to feature its alumni authors. Each has poured himself/herself into their work, and they are an inspiration to us, as they have completed a challenge that few people ever begin. The authors included in this listing span seven decades and range in age from 19 to 81. Most of their works can be purchased online; links are embedded into each book image below.

James A. Beckman, Class of 1986
Jim is the author of six books and over sixty articles that have been included in encyclopedias, newspapers and a variety of academic journals. His most recent book covers the history of Harpers Ferry National Park in West Virginia where Jim currently resides and is a certified National Parks Guide. He has served as an attorney with the U.S Army as an active duty judge advocate and also with the United States Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. Jim has been a faculty member of The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, The University of Tampa and The University of Central Florida, where he is the first permanent chair of the Department of Legal Studies.  His writings include a three-volume set on Affirmative Action which the U.S. Supreme Court ordered for the Supreme Court Law Library.

Alumni Family: father Robert ('54) dec., brothers Dave ('80) and Steve ('83) 

Jack Baumeister, Class of 2015
Jack obtained an impressive variety of internships while attending Ashland University including Mellino Robenalt, LLC, The U.S. House of Representatives working for Congressman Jim Renacci from Ohio District 16 and as a summer finance intern with CommutAir dba United Express. Concurrently, he oversaw The Eagle Investment Group as president at Ashland University. Jack shares his personal experiences as lessons that he learned while developing a network to increase his opportunities and secure internships leading to employment. Jack's handbook provides action steps to build a network, offers advice on handling uncomfortable situations and showcases the power of building a network early in life to boost one's experience and resumé. Interestingly, Jack and his grandmother have started an online coffee sales business to give back during the pandemic! 

Lisa Fenn, Class of 1992
After graduating from Cornell University, Lisa worked for ESPN producing human-interest stories for over thirteen years. She is a three-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award and a six-time Emmy Award–winning feature producer.  Good Morning America and World News Tonight have featured Lisa's work.  On a suggestion from her father, Lisa flew back to Cleveland to cover a story about two high school wrestlers in the Cleveland area. Little did Lisa know this feature was about to change her life. One of the wrestlers was legally blind and would carry another wrestler who lost his legs in a train accident to class each day. As she was covering the boys’ athletic careers, a deep bond and understanding would form that still keeps the three very close today. "Lisa is a sought-after public presenter, speaking on leadership, poverty, and transracial adoption, in addition to her Christian faith and its relevance in both her media career and her daily life." The CLHSA was honored to have Lisa as the key-note speaker for the 70th Anniversary of the association at The Ritz-Carlton in 2018. 

Alumni Family: brother Adam ('96) 

Rev. Dr. David S. Luecke, Class of 1958 (Downtown School)
Dr. David Luecke earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior which prepared him for careers as a consultant and as a professor. While a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Luecke taught the M.B.A. Organizational Behavior course for six years. He taught the Doctor of Ministry course on Church Management at Fuller Seminary for ten years. He was also an administrator and associate professor during this time. As a Valparaiso University professor, he taught Strategic Management. In 1990, he moved back to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to plant a mission church which has flourished. He has been the Administrative Pastor at Royal Redeemer in North Royalton. As a semi-retired pastor, he is passionate about his role as the Missions Pastor also at Royal Redeemer. David has written five books and has been an ordained minister for over 50 years. 

Richard W. Luecke, Class of 1965
Richard attended The United States Military Academy West Point. His competitive nature was reflected in athleticism as a two-year letterman in football and first team All-American on the Army's National Championship Lacrosse team. After graduation, he continued  with the Army serving for an additional six years. The first two years, Dick was stationed in Germany and the next four years he coached football at West Point. Dick dedicated his career of over twenty years in sales to one company: Lutheran Brotherhood. Having a heart for charitable giving, he was instrumental in beginning the CLHSA's Cleveland Lutheran Educational Endowment Fund (CLEEF). He also implemented the Insurance Policy Program, with the CLHSA as the benefactor of substantial gifts. He served on two Lutheran boards - as the Chairman of the CLHSA Board of Trustees and God's Word to the Nations, a Biblical translation in today's English. He believed everyone is a salesman and would profit from the lessons in Living Life Intentionally Luecke gives insights into doing just that through integrity, a positive attitude and persistence. Dick passed away in 1997. 

Alumni Family:  Linda Luecke Potter ('65), sons Todd ('90 ), Reed ('96), grandchildren Rich ('23) and Lizzie ('25), brothers Robert ('62) dec. and Randy ('72) 

Elke Sündermann, Class of 1988
Elke Sündermann is the founder of Anyone-Can-Learn and a middle school STEM teacher living in Arizona. She discovered a need for quality informational books in order to better teach Native American history. This began her quest to produce a curriculum by writing and illustrating over 50 children’s books. “Currently, Elke is in the process of creating a nonprofit organization called Why Your Neighbor Matters. The organization will be dedicated to helping school districts, offering e-learning courses and other resources, automatically putting 75% of membership fees into student scholarship and teacher grant funds.”

Alumni Family: twin sister Brigette ('88) 

Joseph Tolonen, Class of 2015
Joseph Tolonen is a multi-disciplined man. He is an accomplished composer, performer, and writer, which he recently added to his repertoire in 2020.  After graduation, he attended The Cleveland Institute of Music. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe and the United States. The Canton Symphony Orchestra, Rogue Trio (Arizona), and Lutheran High School West (LHSW) have performed commissioned pieces by Joseph. In 2018, Joseph felt called to change career paths and enrolled at Southeastern University, FL to pursue a BS in Ministerial Leadership. LHSW is thrilled to have Joseph as the Assistant Music Director since 2018 as he completes his degree. His book Thriving by Following encourages readers to lean into the rhythms of the Spirit and follow Him to thrive in their lives and deepen their faith.

Alumni Family: brother Noah ('18) 

Pete Zeidner, Class of 1978
Born with Cerebral Palsy, Pete learned to overcome challenges. After earning a Marketing Degree from Kent State University, he found it difficult to convince employers to hire him. Friends and family bought Pete a three-wheeled recumbent bike to cheer him up. In order to raise money for others in similar situations, Pete biked across Ohio and raised $10,000. With this early success, he decided to extend the ride across America. He formed a non-profit named Pedal with Pete in 1993. The annual race headquarters originated in Kent and eventually moved to Columbus. Over 1.2 million dollars was raised in Pete’s lifetime. Pedal with Pete funded 26 grants ($25,000-35,000 each). Pete passed away in 2019. 

Tom Zink, Class of 1964
Immediately following graduation from Valparaiso University, where Tom earned a degree in History, he sought out ways to serve his country through peace-seeking measures by  volunteering in The Peace Corps. He travelled west of Hawaii to Saipan, one of the Micronesian Islands, where he was placed for two years. It was in Saipan that he learned the Chamorro language to teach English as a second language. He also connected with the local people through team sports.  Little did Tom know at the time that this would lead him in the direction of another career with New Games Foundation, which encourages cooperative play for people of all ages. Tom trained to become an instructor of New Games. During this time, Tom met his future bride, Beth. He eventually started his own recreation leadership consulting business called PlayWorks. He earned his doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts. In his most recent adventure, writing a book, Tom invites the reader in, as he tenderly tells the story of his older brother’s death and the way in which his family dealt with their grief. Steve and Tom were delivering newspapers before school one morning in the greater Cleveland area in the 1960’s when Steve was killed in an automobile accident. Seasoned: A Memoir of Grief and Grace offers a road to dealing with grief and healing as an adult. Tom lives in Ontario, Canada.

Alumni Family: brother Steve ('62) dec., sisters Kelly ('68), Amy ('69) and Judy ('72) 

Since the initial publication of this article in an alumni newsletter in late March, the Alumni Office has received notice of other alumni who have published books. We would like to do a similar feature article in the future, so if you know of any alumni who were not included in the above listing, please make us aware by emailing Debi Albrecht at [email protected]. Additionally, alumni who do not already receive the quarterly e-newsletter from the Alumni Office should contact Debi to be added to the list.

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