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December 5, 2003
University Pays Tribute to Alumnus George R. 'Buzz' Westfall With Highest Honor
The late county executive earned bachelor's and law degrees from SLU
ST. LOUIS -- This weekend, Saint Louis University will give its highest honor to the late George R. "Buzz" Westfall. The University will recognize the legacy of Mr. Westfall, a SLU alumnus, with its Sword of Ignatius Loyola.
The award presentation will be made during the University's annual DuBourg Society Dinner, a private event recognizing the University's significant supporters.
"Mr. Westfall was not only a deeply committed public servant who provided remarkable leadership, but he also was an extremely charitable man who truly made a difference in people's lives," said University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. "He epitomized the University's mission of service and social justice in the Jesuit tradition."
One of the region's most influential public figures of the last 20 years, Mr. Westfall grew up in a housing project near North Grand Boulevard. He earned his bachelor's and law degrees from SLU. After graduating, he joined the Saint Louis County prosecutor's office, eventually rising in 1978 to be elected county prosecuting attorney, a position he held for 12 years.
Mr. Westfall was elected county executive in November 1990 and was re-elected three times, most recently in November of 2002. Noted for his bipartisanship and regional focus, he garnered high praise, and his countless accomplishments included the creation of the Metropolitan Education and Training Center, a workforce development partnership that has increased employment opportunities for hundreds of area residents.
One of his proudest accomplishments was the establishment of a Saint Louis County shelter for battered women and children. He also organized the Saint Louis County Fair and Air Show, which has raised more than $1 million for local children's hospitals.
The Sword of Ignatius Loyola is named for the founder of the Society of Jesus, Inigo Lopez de Loyola. Symbolic of the Ignatian vision of service, the sword is awarded to those who have given themselves to humankind for the greater glory of God. Past recipients include Harry S. Truman, Jacques Cousteau, Archbishop John May, and former U.S. Senators John C. Danforth and Thomas F. Eagleton. Last year's recipient was Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
A committee with representation from students, faculty, staff and administrators recommends the honoree. This year, Julius Hunter, vice president for community relations, chaired the group and said it unanimously chose Mr. Westfall for the recognition. He added that the Westfall family was honored when they learned that SLU wanted to confer the Sword posthumously on Mr. Westfall.
Click here to read more about Mr. Westfall.