Alumnus of the Year

Col. Eric Welsh ’84 Alumnus of the Year 2017
The Alumnus of the Year Award…
is presented to one graduate per year who meets each of the following criteria:

  • demonstrated humanitarianism and exemplary service to others
  • demonstrated high standards of integrity through his or her personal life
  • reached outstanding levels of achievement in his or her career field

The Alumnus of the Year Award committee also takes into consideration any contributions the alumnus or alumna has made to MHS through involvement in student programming or by assisting MHS Admissions staff with student recruitment efforts. While nominations are accepted at anytime, they must be received by October 1 to be considered for the following year. The Alumnus of the Year Award is presented each year during Commencement.

2017 Alumnus of the Year Brochure

Milton Hershey School Names 2017 Alumnus of the Year

Col. Eric Welsh ’84 recognized for his global humanitarianism and service to our country

HERSHEY, Pa. – Milton Hershey School® has named retired Col. Eric Welsh ’84 the 2017 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his global humanitarian efforts, 28-year military career and selfless service to homeless veterans.

“Col. Welsh is setting the example for all of us when it comes to service, putting service to his country and service to others above everything else,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “Through that service, he is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School—values like integrity, honor, loyalty and respect. We are proud of his achievements and the example he’s setting for our current students.”

Welsh enrolled at MHS when he was 9 years old. During his time at the school, he developed lifelong skills that helped build the foundation of his character. He learned from adult mentors and participated in athletics, band, choir and student senate.

“I believe Milton Hershey School saved my life,” said Welsh. “The school faculty and senior leaders taught me everything necessary to be successful in life and I always will endeavor to be worthy of their investment in me. In their everyday actions, they modeled the core values that matter so much to me—loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. MHS is my home and the people there will always be my family.”

After graduating from MHS, Welsh attended Kent State University in Ohio, majoring in political science while earning the designation of distinguished military graduate.

He spent 28 years with the U.S. Army and served in several high-level, active-duty leadership roles all over the globe, as well as a key advisory position at the Pentagon. A decorated soldier, Welsh’s military awards include three Bronze Stars, one with valor, a Purple Heart and Legion of Merit, among other honors.

After retiring from the military, Welsh moved to Atlanta, Georgia. with his two teenage sons to work at The Coca-Cola Company. He now serves as global operations director for Coca-Cola’s EKOCENTERTM project. Through EKOCENTER, a modular community market, Welsh has helped thousands of people in Africa and Asia gain access to basic goods and services such as safe drinking water, electricity and communication access.

He’s also the founder of Almost Home Foundation, Inc. a pending non-profit in Georgia that helps combat-experienced veterans and their families transition from military to civilian life. The foundation also addresses the unmet needs of post-traumatic stress treatment for veterans.

Milton Hershey School will honor Welsh during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 10. He will address students and staff during the 2017 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 11.


Previous Alumnus of the Year Winners

First Last Year Grad Year Received Award
Johnny Mills 1976 2016 Entertainment
Anthony Graves 1987 2015 Pediatric Cancer Researcher
Jason Wolfe 1987 2014 Inventor and Entrepreneur
Drew Wolf 1985 2013 Entrepreneur/Philanthropist
Kimberly Elenberg 1988 2012 U.S. Public Health Services
Paul Taylor 1953 2011 Aerospace Industry
Richard Purcell 1961 2010 Manufacturing/Entrepreneur
Milton Purcell 1964 2010 Manufacturing/Entrepreneur
Mary Trinh Pentel 1986 2009 Medicine/Dermatology
Gerald P.H. Ballough 1976 2008 Biology/Research Scientist
Thomas G. McClay 1967 2007 Engineering
E. Michael Kenna 1970 2006 Graphics Arts/Entrepreneur
Alan D. Krashesky 1978 2005 Broadcasting
Richard C. Zilmer 1970 2004 Military Service-Marine Corps
J. Barry Love 1951 2003 Teacher and Philosopher
Robert Brill 1960 2002 Agri-Business Entrepreneur
James Finnegan 1948 2000 Editorial Writer
Wayne Hepler 1943 1999 Engineering/Aerospace
Ivan Dietrich 1942 1998 Law
Merrill Lynn 1948 1997 Research Scientist
A. Baker 1957 1996 Scientist-Biochemistry
A. Gabig 1953 1995 Corporate Law
David Bowser 1957 1994 Building Construction
David Voigt 1944 1993 Author-Educator
Otto Weber 1941 1992 Medicine-Humanitarian
Graham McIntire 1949 1991 U.S. Army-Education
John O’Brien 1961 1990 Psychology
Adrian Taylor 1947 1989 Advertising, Design & Journalism
James Hoeschele 1955 1988 Biomedical Research
J. McKinney 1955 1987 Business Management
James Mancuso 1945 1986 Education-Psychology
William Fisher 1950 1985 Education
William Duff 1952 1984 Architecture Building Const.
John Rineman 1945 1983 Medical Services Administration
First Last Year Grad Year Received Award
Charles Gebelein 1947 1982 Chemistry
Michael Kay 1954 1981 Thoroughbred Racing
E. Wallis Callahan 1944 1980 Culinary Arts
David Bowman 1946 1979 Law
K. Thomas Davies 1953 1978 Theoretical Physics
Richard Davies 1954 1978 Theoretical Physics
William Pugh 1943 1977 Government-Diplomatic Service
James Dower 1935 1976 Architecture
Archie Good 1938 1975 Veterinary-Medicine
John Aichele 1939 1974 Business Affairs-Education
Lewis Eckert 1939 1973 Research & Development
Clark Hobby 1947 1972 Religion
E. Jones 1950 1971 Public Relations
Albert Rickmers 1940 1970 Education
Harry Snow 1943 1969 Entertainment
Edward Rutty 1947 1968 Military Service-Marine Corps
William Geen 1947 1967 Law
Charles Bofinger 1943 1966 Advertising
Frank Brady 1937 1965 Medicine-Anesthesiology
William Dearden 1940 1964 Marketing
John Hart 1936 1963 Personal Management
Kenneth Hatt 1941 1962 Business
Laurence Fredrick 1945 1961 Astronomy
William Wagner 1927 1960 Industrial Service Engineering
Burdsall Miller 1938 1959 Military Service-Air Force
Richard Light 1941 1958 Electrical Engineering
Joseph Gumpher 1935 1957 Finance
Joseph Hartshorn 1939 1956 Geology
Edward Uhrich 1933 1955 Medicine-Pathology
Arthur Whiteman 1927 1954 Finance