Author Archive

Gerald Messick (FS ’60)

Gerald (Jerry) Messick, 82, passed away in Burlington Wisconsin on May 7 2013. Jerry was born in Wood River, Illinois to Anna (nee Gudac) and John Messick.
At 6’8″ he was a basketball star at the East Alton-Wood River High School, accepting a scholarship with the University of Houston for two years before transferring to the University of Iowa to play with the Iowa Hawkeyes. He was named MVP by the NCAA in a 1964 tournament at Northwestern University. Jerry was a journeyman glass maker at Foster Forbes, now Ardaugh Group, where he was known as ‘Stretch’ by his coworkers. He enjoyed using his hands to build or create and volunteered with several others every Saturday morning for over a year to rebuild the Pioneer Cabin in Wehmhoff Square. He had many wonderful friends and was loved by all. He was well-known for his wit and fun-loving nature. Jerry loved singing, making up nonsense songs on the spot to the delight of his four granddaughters. He took joy in life even through his long, fierce battle with cancer. He died at his home with all his girls around him to give him comfort. He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Anna (nee Gudac) and brother John Messick. He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara, beloved daughters Erica Messick and Lindsay Webster, son-in-law, Ryan Webster, granddaughters Natalie, Eleanor, and Rhiannon Webster and Kami Koch, all of Burlington Wisconsin, and his beloved brother, Robert Messick of Wood River, Illinois.
In lieu of a funeral a celebration of life will be held at Low Daily Brewery and Taproom, 700 N Pine St., Burlington Wi June 7. Condolences to the Messick Family may be sent to 7741 Big Pine Lane, Burlington WI 53105

Carl Lewis (’82)

Carl Lewis Hopes to Lead ‘Speed City’ to a National Title


Lewis, the American track and field legend, is now head coach of the sport at the University of Houston. He expects excellence, and an N.C.A.A. Division I team title.


Carl Lewis, the Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter and long jumper, is in his first season as head coach of the University of Houston track and field team.


When Carl Lewis left the University of Houston over 40 years ago, he was 19, the indoor world-record holder in the long jump and one of the best sprinters on earth.


Lewis would go on to become a colossal sports figure, his famous face gracing the top of the Olympic medal stand nine times, and appearing on the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine plus a few Hollywood movies and television shows.


Lewis, now 61 with prickly grays on his balding head, is back at the school he left four decades ago, coaching on a track at a complex bearing his name.


He hopes to fill what is seemingly the only void in his storied track career: a collegiate team national title.


“I’ve always just felt like if I just stayed one more year, then it could have changed the whole trajectory of the program,” Lewis, who was named head coach in July after spending several years an assistant, said in a recent interview.


Lewis won the 100 meters in the 1984 Olympics for one of his nine career Olympic gold medals.


The N.C.A.A. Division I outdoor track and field championships are set to begin in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.


Houston’s best chance at winning a title appears to be with its men, with junior Shaun Maswanganyi leading the group as one of the top sprinters in the country. The women’s team is a “few years away” from having a shot at the title, Lewis said. Sydni Townsend, a 400-meter hurdler, is the lone woman for Houston on the start list for the meet. She has the fifth-fastest time in Division I.


“I still think we have a shot,” Lewis said, acknowledging that his team was far from favored, “but the guys have to come through.”


In 2013, Lewis returned to Houston as a volunteer coach, largely to help his former teammate and then-Houston head coach, Leroy Burrell, with his son Cameron, who was a first-year sprinter on the team. Lewis joined the full-time staff a season later to work with sprinters and jumpers.


As an assistant, Lewis helped develop Houston into one of college’s premier sprint groups. Cameron Burrell became one of the nation’s best 100-meter runners, winning an individual title in 2018. The sprint group earned the moniker “Speed City,” which is written on the outdoor track’s fences and team apparel.


But a team title has evaded Houston. The Cougars appeared to have their best chance four years ago, when the men finished second at the indoor championships, behind Florida. Milesplit, the track and field website, created a weekly video series that followed the team throughout the 2019 outdoor season. But the men finished third, after first-place Texas Tech, and Florida.


“They should have won it,” Lewis said. “They just choked. I mean, they choked straight up. And, you know, we were frustrated because we had the TV show and everything going on.”


Lewis, left, talked to Shaun Maswanganyi, middle, and Aaron Davis II during practice. Maswanganyi is one of the top sprinters in the country.Credit…Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times


The following year, the N.C.A.A. canceled the national indoor championships and subsequent outdoor season because of the coronavirus pandemic, and in 2021, the men finished tied for 18th at the outdoor meet. Two months after that championship, the team was mourning the loss of Cameron Burrell. The 26-year-old died by suicide.


It was a painful time for the team, Maswanganyi said. Burrell was a role model for him, he said, and coming to practice wasn’t the same.


In 2022, Leroy Burrell left Houston for the head coach position at Auburn University. Lewis became head coach in July.


In August, he made his expectations for the Cougars clear. They were going for a national championship or they should “find something else to do.” A sense of urgency was instilled in the team.


When the teams walked into their locker rooms after their first indoor meet, national rankings for all events were posted on one wall to greet them. Lewis printed the sheets for the top 16 athletes in each event group because that marks who is likely to qualify for nationals. He updated the wall after each meet throughout the season.


“Every day in training, I’m thinking about how I’m behind whichever girl on the list and how I need to work on improving my time,” said Kelly-Ann Beckford, who finished the indoor season with the 10th-fastest 800 time in Division I.


Houston has historically dominated the American Athletic Conference. The program has run out of space to hang its conference championship banners from the ceiling of the indoor track facility. But in its final indoor meet in the conference, in February, the men lost to Cincinnati, which won its first men’s title, indoor or outdoor, since 2004. Both schools are headed to the Big 12 Conference next month.


“I’m happy to do it if you’re serious,” Lewis said of coaching. “But if you’re not serious, you’re wasting my time.”Credit…Michael Starghill Jr.


The win was a disappointing beginning to Lewis’s tenure. After that meet, Lewis posted pictures of Cincinnati’s celebrations and a social media post from a trainer who said that “they would do it again outdoors” in the bathroom stalls, the refrigerator, the front doors, and just about every other place in the team’s locker room.


“It got me fired up,” Maswanganyi said. “That’s someone disrespecting you at something we’ve been winning for years.”

At the outdoor conference meet, the men were runner-up again, while the women improved from their third-place indoor showing to finish second. Wichita State’s men outscored Houston by just 2 points.


Still, Lewis seems undeterred. The team has some of the best athletes in Division I in multiple event groups, so wining a national championship is still attainable. Lewis made that evident on a scorching Monday practice earlier this year.


He yelled at the freshman long jumper Aaron Davis II about his form. He shouted directives at Davis and tried to demonstrate movements with his body and hands.


Davis wasn’t adjusting the way Lewis wanted, so Lewis walked over, ran down the long jump runway, and did the jump himself as sand bounced into his pant leg.


“It took me a while to realize,” Lewis said, pausing briefly to collect his thoughts. “Look, I never came out here saying they could do what I do because — come on — that’s never going to happen again.”


He added: “But look, I lose money every day I come out here. I mean, I’m giving up my, you know, vacation time, so I’m serious about it. So I’m happy to do it if you’re serious. But if you’re not serious, you’re wasting my time. So this is the year to get everything back on track.”

Charles “Chuck” Richard Kaufmann (’71)

Charles Kaufmann Obituary

Charles “Chuck” Richard Kaufmann, 81, of Galveston, sadly passed away on May 5, 2023 in Austin, Texas after a lengthy hospital stay. Charles was born to Maxwell and Ruth Kaufmann of Cincinnati, Ohio, June 4, 1941. He attended Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati where he received a degree in Economics.
Chuck joined the United States Air Force in 1963 and was stationed at Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring where he met his future wife, Cleo Kaufmann, nee Thomas on a blind date. Chuck and Cleo were married June 12, 1965. He was a decorated veteran who served on active duty in Vietnam from 1966-1967 as a loadmaster and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain in 1968.
After leaving the military, Chuck attended the University of Houston School of Law. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1971. Chuck began his career as a lawyer in Big Spring, and practiced law in Austin and Houston. While practicing law in Houston, he also served as Municipal Court Judge for the City of Spring Valley for many years. He finished his career as a lawyer in Galveston where he retired in 2020.
Chuck is survived by his wife, Cleo Rita Kaufmann, nee Thomas of 58 years; children, Chanah (Jamie) King, Joshua (Laura Beth) Kaufmann, Marshon (Bryan) Sullivan; grandchildren, Samantha (Clayton) Whelchel, Jacob King, Alex Sullivan, Audrey Kaufmann, Adam Sullivan, and Max Kaufmann and one great-grandchild. He also leaves behind a brother Steve (Diane) Kaufmann.
There will be a Graveside Service Friday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. at Trinity Memorial Park in Big Spring, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your favorite charity in Chuck’s name. He would really love that.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home and Crematory.  Online condolences can be made at

Amanda McLean (’21)

DJ “Die Hard” Explains Her Unique Path to Join the U.S. Army

By Maj. Javon Starnes, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command public affairs officer

May 31, 2023

McLean was recently promoted

DAEGU, Republic of Korea – Army Sergeant Amanda “DJ Die Hard” McLean, hailing from Houston, Texas, is a shining example of someone who embarked on an incredible journey that led her to the United States Army. In an exclusive interview, Sergeant McLean shared her background and the path that brought her to the Armed Forces Network in the Republic of Korea.


After completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Houston and working in professional sports hospitality management with both, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Texans. McLean found herself at a crossroads when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Seeking a change and the opportunity for personal growth, she embarked on a journey that led her to the Army.



“I did not want to box myself into a very niche field, especially during a time when everything is uncertain,” McLean said. During the interview, McLean explained that her decision to join the Army was encouraged by her twin brother, James, who also enlisted on the same day. McLean and her brother both graduated from basic combat training together as well. Their sibling bonds have grown tightly as the two crossed over into their professional lives. While McLean pursued her passion in public affairs and was stationed in the Republic of Korea, James ventured in a slightly different direction and began a journey with the Defense Language Institute, learning Iraqi Arabic.



Having experienced the Army’s opportunities firsthand, McLean is an advocate for fellow soldiers to take advantage of the educational programs and tuition assistance available. She often emphasizes the importance of continuing education. “They don’t realize how lucky they are to have those opportunities and the support available to them,” McLean said.


Not one to shy away from her own advice, McLean is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration and eventually plans to attend law school. Her dedication and commitment to professional growth make her an invaluable asset to the Army’s public affairs career field.


Reflecting on her memorable experiences thus far, McLean fondly recalls a community outreach program where she had the chance to visit a local school in the Republic of Korea. There, she spent time with students, teaching them about American culture and cultivating relationships that will last a lifetime. “It reminded me of the impact we can have on the local community and how we can build positive relationships wherever we go,” she shared.


McLean’s desire is to advance in the public affairs career field by seeking more challenging assignments. She aspires to become a subject matter expert in public affairs, utilizing her skills and experiences to bridge the gap between the Army and the public, fostering a better understanding of truth and transparency within communities.


To those considering a career in the Army, McLean offers sound advice. She encourages potential candidates to step out of their comfort zone, embrace new challenges, and leverage the Army’s resources.


McLean’s journey from Houston to the Army is a testament to the transformative power of the Army. Her story exemplifies the limitless opportunities and lifelong bonds that can be forged through service. She continues to make her mark in the Army. Her likable personality and enthusiasm can be heard daily on the radio – just tune in to your local AFN station if you’re in the Republic of Korea. You won’t regret it.


For more information on the many paths available to join the United States Army, visit

Mayte Sera Weitzman (’92)

Mayte Sera Weitzman (’92), Public Relations, Goya Foods of Texas, was named as one of the HBJ 2022 Women Who Mean Business Honorees.

The Houston Business Journal has named 105 honorees for the 2022 Women Who Mean Business Awards, recognizing women in leadership roles who have demonstrated excellence in their careers and community.

The awards honor women across twelve industry categories plus the Woman to Watch category. The criteria for selection included career achievement, contribution to company and city success, community involvement and leadership.

All of the honorees were recognized in a special section of the Houston Business Journal’s Oct. 13, 2022 weekly edition and during an in-person awards luncheon at the Marriott Marquis Houston.