Helias Catholic High School and the Foundation for the Benefit of Helias Catholic High School will induct four people into the Helias Hall of Fame at the Celebrate the Legacy fundraiser gala, scheduled March 2 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.
Helias Hall of Fame honorees must have graduated at least 20 years prior to induction, demonstrated loyalty and service to Helias, distinguished himself or herself in a chosen field, and have exhibited moral standards to the credit of the school.
This year's honorees are Rick Baer, Kenneth Kuster, Matthias Tolksdorf and Chris Yarnell
Rick Baer is the son of Leonard and Sylvia Baer. He has three children: Craig Baer (Kim), Nathan Baer (Kim) and Seth Baer.
He graduated from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, in 1968. He earned his bachelor of science in biology from Columbia College and his master of education from the University of Missouri, as well as 38 additional post-graduate credits.
Baer is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Jefferson City.
His teaching career began at West Junior High School in Columbia, where he served as teacher, science department chair, audio visual director, track coach, and sponsored and coached freshman softball for two years. While there, he was a member of Phi Delta Kappa Education Honorary Society and served as scout master for Troop 3 (Columbia). After 21 years at West Junior, Baer moved to Rock Bridge High School, where he taught biology, CWC biology and Earth sciences for five years. He then served 17 years at Helias Catholic High School teaching Earth science and one year teaching basic biology and physical science. Since his retirement in 2016, Baer continues to substitute teach at Helias on a regular basis.
Baer has been an integral part of the Mid-Missouri high school athletic scene for more than two decades. At Rock Bridge High School, he spent 11 years as the head coach for the Bruins' boys and girls track and cross country teams. Since becoming a part of the Helias Catholic High School family 18 years ago, Baer has spent 11 years as assistant coach for the Crusaders' track and cross country teams, as well as program supervisor for the football, boys and girls basketball, and volleyball teams. He currently serves as the school's assistant tennis coach.
In addition to his 44 years of teaching, Baer's athletic community involvement outside the high school realm includes 30 years as a University of Missouri track official, five years serving on the board of directors for the University of Missouri Track Officials and lead official for track and pole vault, including two years as lead official (pole vault) at the Big 12 Conference Outdoor (1998) and Indoor (1999) Championships. Baer also served five years on the Show Me Games track steering committee and five years as lead official (pole vault) for the Show-Me-Games and Senior Games. Lastly, he served for five years with the Missouri Special Olympics on the Board of Directors Sports, as director of athletics (track), and head track coach (State of Missouri) for the Special Olympics World Games.
Baer has been lauded multiple times thanks to his involvement with and commitment to Helias Catholic High School. He is a prior recipient of the Pat Buchannon Service Award and the Lasallian Service Award. In 2016, he was featured as the keynote address speaker for the Helias National Honor Society. Baer is an extremely dedicated gentleman to Helias Catholic High School, as he has always gone above and beyond from volunteering to work evenings as a janitor cleaning the restrooms when Helias found themselves without an evening custodian for several months, to assisting any and all athletic teams when asked. He would go to school on snow days and shovel walks, he would show up early to clean locker rooms before the opposing team arrived, he would chaperone student activities even when he was not specifically assigned, and he would even participate in religious activities even though he is not Catholic. Baer did and still does a lot for Helias and its students consistently, without remuneration and with a positive, upbeat and friendly attitude.
Ken Kuster is the son of William and Ruth Marie Kuster. He is married to Marlene Lansford Kuster. They have four children: Ben Kuster (Regina), Katie Guntli (Pete), Jessica Sinner (Matt) and Ethan Kuster (Natalie, fiancée). Ken and Marlene have nine grandchildren.
He graduated from Linn (Osage County R-2) High School in 1970. He earned his bachelor of science in business administration in 1974 from Central Missouri State University.
Kuster worked for the Missouri State Auditor's Office for 34 years (1974-2008) and served as director of audits from 1989 until his retirement in 2008. He has worked at Lowe's in Jefferson City as a garden center associate since 2010.
Kuster is a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City, where he has served as Immaculate Conception School athletic director for 24 years, served on the school board for three years and is a Holy Name Society member. His community involvement includes 10 years of service on the Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission, 22 years as a MSHSAA-licensed basketball official, and 30 years of service as the Parochial Athletic League (PAL) director of basketball.
Kuster's involvement with Helias Catholic High School includes volunteering to work numerous events, 10 years of service as scoreboard operator for the Helias Football program, 10 years of service as the official scorekeeper for Helias boys basketball program, as well as a supporter of Helias Catholic High School, the foundation and its capital campaigns. Kuster is a tremendous example of those who go unnoticed while providing backbone support to the Helias and parochial school community. His numerous years of volunteering at Helias, as well as helping coordinate PAL athletics, has impacted many athletes, parents and administrators. It has been said it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village of volunteers to help Helias and PAL athletics provide and maintain excellent opportunities for athletes to grow as individuals, and Kuster is such a volunteer.
Matt Tolksdorf is the son of Dr. Heinz and Brigitte Tolksdorf. He is married to Teresa Ann Scheppers Tolksdorf. They have three children: Jeffrey Tolksdorf (Lindsay), Kimberly Anne Tolksdorf and Julia Tolksdorf Cowley (Mark). Matt and Teresa have one grandchild.
He graduated from Washington High School in Washington, Missouri, in 1970. He earned his bachelor of arts in 1974 and his MBA in 1981 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 1986, Tolksdorf earned a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).
Tolksdorf worked with Chartercorp in Kansas City then became an investment officer in the Trust Department of First National Bank of Kansas City. In 1985, he began to work for Central Trust Company and continues to do so today as a senior vice president and trust investment officer.
Tolksdorf is a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Jefferson City, where he serves as a pianist for the Joyful Noise Music Ministry. His community involvement includes being a member of the Diocesan Finance Council of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, past president of the Jefferson City Breakfast Rotary Club, pianist of Monticello Singers, pianist for various community events, and a member of the Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Tolksdorf is a past treasurer for St. Joseph Home and School Association, a founding member of the Friends of the Library, and a lifetime member of the Cole County Historical Society.
Tolksdorf's involvement with Helias Catholic High School includes 25 years as the rehearsal pianist and pit orchestra pianist for the Helias spring musicals and other musical productions — sometimes three a year. He has also transcribed music for a number of the shows. Over 20 years, he has accompanied numerous band and choral students in district and state music festivals. Tolksdorf has shared his expertise, knowledge and talent with the Helias community for many years and is dedicated to the growth and talent of its students.
Chris Yarnell is the son of Bill and Ann Yarnell. He is married to Debra Manley Yarnell. They have four children: Ben, Samantha, Luke and Grace.
He graduated from Helias High School in 1979 and earned his civil engineering degree in 1984 from the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Yarnell began his employment with the Texas Department of Transportation, followed by a position with Crawford-Murphy-Tilly Engineering Company in St. Louis. Returning to Jefferson City, he was employed by Twehous Excavating Company, Cole County Engineer/Director of Public Works and Jefferson City Asphalt Company. He taught asphalt mix-design engineering classes at University of Missouri, as well as Texas A&M Traffic Institute on a national basis for several years. Yarnell is presently employed as manager of the ESS Engineering Company in Jefferson City and has begun his own business, Yarnell Home Inspection, relating to real estate sales.
Yarnell is a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City, where he has served on the parish council and continues to serve as a Mass usher and communion minister. His community involvement includes being a Pre-Cana Class instructor for more than 25 years along with his wife, Debra. He is a member of the East Side Business Association and the Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as a member of the Jefferson City chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, being selected as the 1993 Young Engineer of that chapter.
Yarnell's involvement with Helias Catholic High School includes two terms on the Advisory Council, several years on the building and capital campaign committees assisting Didier Aur and now Rev. Stephen Jones. He has provided assistance to the football program as an on-field statistician and has volunteered for approximately 30 years with the booster barbecue. Yarnell is one of Helias' alumni who give back countless hours of time and talent to the school for the betterment of its students and future well-being of the school and its community.