Former Leggett & Platt Vice President Don LaFerla and his wife Gloria will receive the “Lion Hearted Award”.
The Lion-Hearted Award at Missouri Southern is presented to those who are not graduates of Joplin Junior College or Missouri Southern but who embody the true heart and soul of Lion Spirit and have given significant assistance and support to the institution.
They will be honored during the “Super Heroes” Homecoming reception from 6–8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1 in the Ralph L. Gray Alumni Center and at the Lion Pride Brunch, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov.2 in the Connor Ballroom in Billingsly Student Center at MSSU.
Reservations can be made for both events and can be obtained by calling (417) 659-5466. All winners will also be recognized at the Homecoming Football game later that afternoon.
Rob Roy Ratliff
Rob Roy Ratliff, Gaithersburg, Md., was born and reared in Webb City, Mo. He attended Joplin High School and worked as news editor and announcer for WMBH in Joplin, Missouri. Upon graduation, he attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Pacific before World War II. After the war, he worked as a reporter for the Joplin Globe and News Herald and enrolled in Joplin Junior College. He received his AA degree in 1947 and attended American University in Washington, D.C. where he earned his BS, MA, and PhD degrees.
He was a clandestine officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, serving in the Philippines, the Republic of China in Taiwan, and British Guiana, (now Guyana) in South America. He served six years as the senior CIA officer on the White House staff of the National Security Council under three presidents. He was the Executive Assistant to the Director of the CIA and was a member of the CIA Inspector General’s staff.
He was awarded the Intelligence Medal of Merit when he retired in 1980. In 1948, he married a JJC classmate, Rebecca (Becky) Shaw, and they reside in a retirement facility in Gaithersburg, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Two daughters live nearby and another lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Micheal W. Osborne
Michael W. (Mike) Osborne, Neosho, received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1976 from Missouri Southern. In September of 1976 Mike became Secretary Treasurer of a start-up company called Nutra Blend located in Neosho, Missouri, and in 1989 became President and CEO of Nutra Blend. With his direction and the efforts of many talented employees, Nutra Blend has grown from a start-up to revenues of over $800 million per year, facilities from coast to coast, and average revenue growth of over 20 percent over the last 11 years. He is an active Board Member of the American Feed Industry Association.
Mike and his wife Terry (who holds an Associate degree in Nursing from MSSU, and a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Pittsburg State University) have been married for 37 years and have 3 children, Matt Osborne, Laura Shadwick, and Julie Lippert. Two of their three children received their Bachelor Degrees from MSSU, and one from Pittsburg State. All three, along with Terry, have or have nearly completed their MBAs. Mike also has four grandchildren who he hopes will become MSSU graduates someday. Mike is an active member of Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin.
Don and Gloria LaFerla
Don and Gloria LaFerla have resided in Carthage, Missouri since 1973. They moved from St. Louis, Missouri when Don accepted the position of Data Processing Manager at Leggett & Platt’s Corporate Office in Carthage.
Don has served as past board president of the McCune-Brooks Hospital Board, McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation Board, Missouri Southern Foundation Board, Carthage Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and is currently board president of the Carthage Community Foundation Board. He has also served on the boards of the Missouri Hospital Association, Carthage Sheltered Workshop and Private Industry Council and was active in the Carthage Little League.
Gloria is a past president of the Soroptimist International of Carthage. She also has been a member of Dogwood Garden Club and McCune-Brooks Hospital Auxiliary. They are both Lionbackers and belong to the MSSU Legacy Society.
The LaFerlas met as students at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1959. They were married on June 17, 1961 in St. Louis, Missouri. They celebrated their 52nd anniversary this year. They are both actively involved in the Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board of Directors.
Gloria was employed for over 20 years with IBM Corporation. She retired from the Joplin office in 1996. Don’s career with Leggett & Platt, Inc. spanned twenty-seven and a half years from 1973 to 2001. He retired in 2001 as Vice President of Management Information and Office Services.
Don taught Introduction to Data Processing at MSSU in the evening study program in the early 1990s and was on the Computer Science Advisory Committee there as well.
They have two sons who graduated from Missouri Southern State University: Jeffrey in 1984, and Michael in 1989. Both sons went on to pursue professional degrees. Jeffrey LaFerla is a Doctor of Optometry. His wife, Joni, is also an Optometrist. They are in private practice in Kansas City, Missouri. They have two sons, Peyton, 16, and Cameron, 14.
Michael LaFerla is a Board Certified Orthodontist practicing in Joplin, Missouri. He and his wife, Bre, have one daughter, Jadyn, 6, and reside in Joplin, Missouri.
Don and Gloria are members of the Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage. They are avid St. Louis Cardinal fans, and enjoy travelling with friends and family.