December 14, 2010
Meet the 2011 Great Living Cincinnatians
The Chamber is pleased to introduce the 2011 class of Great Living Cincinnatians: the Honorable Sandra S. Beckwith, David C. Phillips, Oscar P. Robertson and John M. Tew, Jr., M.D.
“The Great Living Cincinnatian Award is the preeminent local honor, and these four very worthy recipients join 122 prior honorees as the who’s who of Cincinnati’s leaders,” said Ellen van der Horst, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “Members of the class of 2011 can be characterized by the traits that drove them to succeed— progressive thinking and visionary leadership that led to breaking new ground. And while they all were successful in their respective professions, each also has had a significant impact on our region and beyond.”
The Great Living Cincinnatian Award has been presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967. Recipients are chosen by the Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: community service, business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level; leadership; awareness of the needs of others; and distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization.
The Chamber will honor these distinguished leaders at its annual dinner at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom on Feb. 24. A capacity audience of 1,000 community and business leaders is expected to attend.
Honorable Sandra S. Beckwith
When Sandra Beckwith was a law school student, her constitutional law professor pulled her aside and said she was occupying a slot that a “smart young man” could have found much more valuable. These comments fueled Beckwith’s drive to succeed, and for the next 40 plus years she repeatedly broke through one glass ceiling after another.
Growing up, Beckwith’s idol was Dr. Reed Shank, her paternal grandfather. Shank was not only an acclaimed surgeon, but the team doctor for the Cincinnati Reds, the original Bengals (1937-41) and the athletic teams at the University of Cincinnati. In 1942, he also became a trustee of the university.
“In my family,” Judge Beckwith jokes, “if you don’t go to the University of Cincinnati, your name is crossed out of the family bible and never spoken again.”
Upon graduation from law school in 1969, Beckwith joined her father, an attorney in Harrison. Since her father didn’t like litigation, she found herself in court. At a time when only a handful of women lawyers argued cases in court, she stood out, leading to her appointment to the municipal court bench after just eight years of practice.
In 1987, she became the first woman elected to the Court of Common Pleas in the Division of Domestic Relations. Beckwith helped establish processes to deal with domestic violence cases, something she had observed on the municipal bench, and in 1989 became the first, and only to date, woman to serve on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.
In 1991, a statewide panel recommended that President George Bush appoint her to the United States District Court for Southern District of Ohio, again breaking new ground for women when she won Senate approval. And in 2004, her fellow judges selected her as chief judge of the court until she took senior status. Over her time on the federal bench, she served on commissions on lawyers’ responsibility, prison overcrowding, death penalty appeals and computerization of the courts.
But her proudest moment on the bench came in overseeing the settlement of a case brought by relatives of 91 poor patients in the 1950s. The patients’ bodies had been subjected to whole-body radiation experiments at the Cincinnati General Hospital without informed consent, and the results had been shared with the Department of Defense without the patients’ full knowledge. Judge Beckwith insisted that the claims be decided on its merits, not on technicalities. In the negotiated settlement, in addition to the monetary settlement, an apology was extracted in the form of a plaque erected at University Hospital recognizing the patients.
David C. Phillips
Phillips, who grew up on an Ohio farm and graduated from the University of Dayton, built an immensely successful business career with Arthur Anderson over the course of 32 years. As one of the first employees of the Cincinnati office, he quickly identified opportunities among privately-held firms and made Arthur Anderson the “entrepreneur’s accounting firm.” Ultimately, he rose to managing partner of the local office.
He always encouraged his employees to become involved in the community and lead by example. As chairman of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce in 1983, he oversaw the launch of the Blue Chip Campaign and led a delegation to Japan to discuss opportunities with auto parts suppliers. Today, hundreds of Japanese companies are clustered along I-75.
In 1984, Mayor Charlie Luken asked Phillips to form a commission to scrutinize city operations. The report resulted in the city saving nearly $900,000 annually. The next year, John Smale, himself a Great Living Cincinnatian, asked Phillips to assist with a commission focused on addressing the city’s infrastructure needs, including the identification of funding sources to implement the plan. During the same period, Phillips also served and led multiple boards, including the effort that transformed the community’s beloved, but empty, Union Terminal into the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Promotions took Phillips out of Cincinnati in 1988. Six years later, at age 56, he “retired” from Arthur Anderson and returned to Cincinnati to become the first leader of Downtown Cincinnati, Inc. (DCI). For the next five years, Phillips headed DCI—for $1 per year—shaping it into an instrument to revitalize the downtown.
At the same time, Phillips and wife Liane began their greatest collaboration, the creation of Cincinnati Works. Unlike other job training programs, Cincinnati Works is designed to help people living in poverty develop not only the skills and attitudes to get a decent paying job with health benefits, but to retain that job and achieve self-sufficiency.
“Our industry believes we are in the job placement business, when we believe we are in the elimination-of-poverty business,” Phillips observed.
Liane tells the story of Cincinnati Works through her recent book, Why Don’t They Just Get a Job? And in 2009 the success of Cincinnati Works was recognized by the National Manhattan Institute with a Social Entrepreneur Award. Today, the Phillips are working to spread the Cincinnati Works model to other cities.
Robert Kohlhepp, the chairman of Cintas Corporation, summed up the quality that sets Phillips apart as a great citizen and a Great Living Cincinnatian.
“There are many bright people who can assess situations and determine what needs to be done. There are far fewer individuals who then roll up their sleeves and actually get it done. Dave Phillips is one such individual.”
Oscar P. Robertson
No other athlete who came to Cincinnati for college has gone on to achieve so much and return to give so much.
Every Cincinnatian knows Oscar Robertson as a great basketball player. In 1956, he arrived at the University of Cincinnati as Indiana’s “Mr. Basketball,” and proceeded to transform the program’s prospects. The “Big O” averaged 33.8 points a game and became the NCAA’s first three-time All American. He took UC to two Final Fours and laid the groundwork for back-to-back national championships in 1961 and ’62.
Upon graduation, he led the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team, perhaps the greatest basketball team ever assembled, to a gold medal before joining the Cincinnati Royals. In the NBA he was more than a star-- he transformed the game. By averaging a triple double (scoring 30.8 points, grabbing 12.5 rebounds and making 11.4 assists) in his second season, Robertson did something no other NBA player has matched before or since. In his 14-year Hall of Fame career with the Royals and Milwaukee Bucks, Robertson literally created the role of the big point guard who could score from anywhere, rebound, pass and play defense.
But Oscar Robertson is more than just one of the best basketball players of all time. He is also a successful labor leader, sports broadcaster, entrepreneur, businessman and community leader.
As president of the NBA Player’s Association from 1965 to 1974, Robertson led an anti-trust suit against the league challenging the reserve clause. The settlement in 1976, which was dubbed the “Oscar Roberson Rule,” helped NBA players become the first professional athletes to achieve free agency.
Upon retiring from the NBA, Robertson became an entrepreneur and business man. One of his chief areas of business activity is specialty chemicals. Michael Fisher, the former president of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, remembers that Robertson and Fisher’s father, Mel, who owned specialty-chemical manufacturer Texo Corporation, developed a strong friendship over the years. Mel went on to serve as a business mentor to Robertson and Michael even remembers playing a little backyard basketball against the Big O.
In 1997, Robertson made the biggest assist of his lifetime. At the time, his daughter Tia’s kidneys were failing, and he donated one of his kidneys to her. He now advocates for health and wellness, kidney disease prevention and organ transplantation for the National Kidney Foundation. He and his wife Yvonne created a scholarship fund for deserving students and Robertson serves as a co-chair of the UC’s current $1 billion capital campaign.
John M. Tew, Jr., M.D.
Since his arrival in 1969, John M. Tew, Jr. has made Cincinnati an international center for neurosurgery, while strengthening the community through broad involvement with the educational and cultural institutions that anchor and define our region.
Born on a farm in North Carolina of a mother who was unable to attend college and a father who did not finish high school, Tew wanted more. After two years at a local community college, he transferred to Wake Forest where he completed his undergraduate and medical school education. At the end of his first year of medical school, he was awarded the “best anatomist” prize, indicating his dexterity with tissue and his ability to confront the insides of the human body.
In a life-changing development, he won the prestigious Van Wagenen Fellowship, which allowed him to train under Gazi Yasargil, M.D., the founder of micro-neurosurgery, at the University of Zurich. There Tew learned to use the new operating microscope, which was making the treatment of deadly brain aneurysms predictably successful for the first time.
Dr. Frank H. Mayfield, himself a Great Living Cincinnatian, recruited Tew to the Mayfield Clinic in 1969. Tew served as professor and chairman of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Neurosurgery for 20 years, while operating on more than 12,000 patients in 45 years. At the same time, he advanced the science of microsurgery, became the first person in Cincinnati to apply lasers in neurosurgery, helped introduce radiosurgery to Cincinnati for the treatment of brain tumors and vascular malformations, and helped introduce intraoperative MRI to North America.
He created the UC Neuroscience Institute in 1998, which now ranks among the top neuroscience centers in North America. Revered in his field, he has been elected president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, president of the Academy of Neurological Surgeons, and president of the Ohio State Neurosurgical Society.
Dr. Tew has an amazing ability to connect with his patients, taking pride not only in their medical progress, but their total lives. He and Blake, a young man from Dayton with a brain tumor, first connected over their common commitment to cycling.
“Dr. Tew is really good at what he does, and he’s very caring on the personal level,” Blake says. “I’ve heard that a lot of prominent surgeons are very caught up in themselves. I don’t see Dr. Tew as being caught up in himself at all.”
Beyond the operating room and the classroom, Tew has served on numerous boards, including the Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Museum Center, several boards at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. He and his wife Susan also are active and involved Catholics and, in 1989, were recognized with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal, an honor bestowed by Pope John Paul.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s annual dinner, presented by PNC, will be held on Feb. 24 at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom.
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