Congratulations to the class of 1973 on the 50th anniversary of your graduation from Ranken Technical College. It is our institutional tradition to honor our Golden Graduates – all those celebrating five decades, or more, as alumni – at our annual graduation event. In addition to our tribute at graduation, we also honor our Golden Graduates by collecting and posting their stories to honor their work and inspire prospective Ranken students. Below you can find pictures and personal stories from graduates of the class of 1973, serving as a tribute to their accomplishments. We also have the class composite picture (click here to view) so the class of 1973 can see themselves and their friends and recall their days as students.  If you would like your story and picture added to this page, please email [email protected].


Steve Isaak ’73 Welding

After completing his Welding program, Steve became a Welder at Nooter Boilermakers in St. Louis. After his time at Nooter he worked as a Welder at Illinois Central Car Repair Shops in Centralia, Ill.  Read More

Then he became a Pipeline and Storage & Terminal Operator for Texaco Cities Service Pipeline Co. of Wilmington, Shelbyville & Patoka, Ill.  He then went back to welding on Pipeline Maintenance Crew and also was Welding Inspector and Supervisor of Pipeline Maintenance Crew for NuStar Energy L.P in Hermann, Mo.

Steve said his education at Ranken, “opened a wide array of opportunities for work/career and to travel and meet a wide range of people.”

Steve and his wife, Gloria, will celebrate 50 years of marriage  this coming October. They have three sons, Corey; Patrick, Scott & 6 grandchildren. Steve enjoys camping, hunting, boating, fishing, going to all types of car races and vacation travel.

Steve adds, “My favorite memory of Ranken is the camaraderie with everyone in the welding class, and the strict rules, codes & grade requirements expected by Ranken.

When asked about his accomplishments Steve says, “My family and career that my Ranken education and training allowed me to accomplish in life.” Steve retired on Jan. 6, 2017 from NuStar Energy L.P.

After Nixon, Allen worked at Jung Brothers Pontiac for ten years, Meyer Olds for 5 years, Meyer Honda for 13 years and then moved to Huey Honda. He retired from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Automotive Lodge 777 in 2000. Allen has been married for 47 years and has two sons and one grandson. He and his wife have a Can-Am Spyder which they enjoy riding. They also have a 24 foot motor home which they enjoy using on their travels.

James England ’73 Industrial Electricity and Electronics

Jay went to work as an electrician on the maintenance staff at the Chase Park Plaza after graduation. “I remember going to the villas on the 17th floor and above where all the doctors lived. I would go there to fix something simple like a doorbell and they would tip me fifty cents. Always thought that was odd.” He worked there for one year and then moved to Arizona but did not do well there, “I was only making $5 an hour.”Read More

So, he moved back to St. Louis became a licensed electrician in Missouri and Illinois and ran his own business for 25 years. “The union wanted me to join as a contractor but I could not afford it so they took me on as an electrician. I had to start as an apprentice for six months. I was taking the test and had not yet finished, and they walked in and said, ‘your done’ so at the age of 52 I became a journeyman.

I did that for 10 years and then retired. Jay says that “Without my Ranken education, God only knows what I would have done.” In retirement Jay joined the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, a charitable organization. He likes to play pool and golf. He had two favorite memories from Ranken, “The first is when I went there to take the entrance test. It was all Math, and I was good at Math, so I was getting a little bored and was just looking around. Someone walked in and said, ‘times up’ I told them I was not done but they said too bad. I asked what to do. They told me to come back in six months. I did and took it more seriously that time.”

His other memory was during his second year of school, “I did not have enough money to pay tuition because of a family situation. I told the dean and he brought me into his office. He asked me if I had a car and I told him I did. He asked what kind of car and I told him it was a 56 Plymouth Savoy, and I pointed it our from his window. After looking at my car he said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We will take care of it.’ I finished school that year and never paid any tuition. He also recalls 13 students in his class when he started, but only three graduated with him, Ira Ruhmann and James Schmitt.


David Sanders ‘73 Automotive Maintenance Technology.

I am proud of the education I received at Ranken and have found it to be very useful throughout my life.  After graduation I worked for Overland Garage as an automotive mechanic.  I was there until 1980.  In 1980 my father-in-law started a parking lot sweeping company and ask me to be a part of it.  I worked as a driver, mechanic, and foreman. In 1993, I took over as owner and CEO. My wife and both my daughters worked with me at the company. By the time we sold the company and retired in 2021 it had become the largest street sweeping company in St. Louis with a fleet of 15 street sweepers and 7 water trucks. We worked for many of the large road construction companies, such as Millstone Weber, NB West and Pace. We worked on all major highways in St. Louis including the 3-year renovation of Hwy 64.  Other major jobs we were involved in were runway renovations at Lambert Airport, renovations of the Arch grounds and most recently the construction of the new soccer stadium. Read More

With my Ranken background I was able to be a hands-on boss.  I knew the trucks and how they worked. All maintenance was done in house, and I was knowledgeable enough to make improvements to optimize performance. Early on we started fabricating many parts and I found myself referring to the drafting I learned while at Ranken.  When computers became a major part of automotive, I returned to Ranken to stay up with the industry.

Of course, my favorite memory of Ranken was playing football during lunch!  But I also have a good memory of a transmission teacher predicting in a sealed envelope what was wrong with the transmission, before we took it apart.

On a personal note, I just celebrated my 49th anniversary with my wife, Nancy.  We have 2 married daughters and 5 grandchildren. I enjoy fishing and boating at Lake of the Ozarks and hope to do some traveling in the next few years.

James Allemann ’62 Precision Machining Technology

Graduated in ’62 worked for Dyne Makers for a few years and they closed, followed President Don Westoff to Crestwood and worked for him for 26 years, when they closed he went to work at Davis Tool in Fenton until 2012, retired and then went to work for his son at Allemann Machine and Tool until 2020 and retired again when COVID hit.

Russell Allen ’73 Stationary Engineer, ’77 HVAC

After graduation Russell began his career and a Stationary Engineer at St. Louis State Hospital. He then continued his work in this field at Adams Dairy. When Adams Dairy bought Velvet Freeze Russell went back to Ranken and earned his second Degree in HVAC and worked for Velvet Freeze for seven years on refrigeration until they closed seven years later. Read More

For the next 30 years he worked for Burt’s Refrigeration and Northwest Refrigeration until his retirement. He and his wife enjoy camping, dancing and four wheeling. They have three sons, five grandkids and 2 great grand kids.

Russell says, “Ranken prepared me for the Stationary engineering test by covering everything that could be tested. As soon as we finished one section of instruction I would go and take the test for that section. I did this 6 times and passed each test.” Russell was a night school student for both programs on the GI bill.

What he best remembers about the classes was that “Everyone in the night program was trying to better themselves by learning a new skill and we knew Ranken was the place to do this. Everyone was friendly and hard working. One of my classmates, Mark Menos, went on to start Kirkwood Heating and Air Conditioning.”

E. Joe GildehausE Joseph Gildehaus ’73 Industrial Electricity, Electronics, Instrumentation Technology

I started out going to David Ranken Jr. School of Mechanical Trades in September 1965. I did not want to go to college because of the cost and not have a trade right off the bat. My father knew a few people that had graduated from Ranken and had very successful careers, so I took that route.  My father’s work for Union Electric company and had all sorts of electrical gadgets and projects that he would bring home after work. He sold Electricity to rural areas such as farms. This gave me an insight as to what I wanted to do with my life. I loved Electricity because of that.  I wanted to do wiring and controls, so I went to Ranken for that purpose. Read More

I went to Ranken for approximately two years when Uncle Sam called while I was on summer break, and I got a draft notice 4A. Not wanting to go into the Army I enlisted in the Air force. Do to Ranken I bypassed the tech schools and went straight to my duty station in California. I was doing Electrical work the whole time while in the service. After I got out of the service it was 1973 and as I did not complete the training at Ranken I went to night school and completed my degree while working at Zeller Electric (now Zeller Technology). I worked at that company for 42 years.


Gary Hemmann ’73 HVAC

Gary decided to come to Ranken after high school because he had heard so many good things about the school’s reputation. As a student at Ranken Gary remembers the impact his teachers had on him. Gary recalls, “I was not a very good student in high school, but when I got to Ranken I did much better. Before Ranken I was not one to tackle anything, but Ranken gave the confidence to tackle car problems, home repairs, and more.” Read More

After graduation Gary went to work for an appliance repair business and eventually ran his own appliance repair company. In 1985 he had the opportunity to go to work for McDonald Douglas and spent 25 years there as an electrician in the HVAC department.

Gary retired in 2008. He and his wife of 50 years live on an acre and a half which keeps him busy, and they spend their summers at a condo they own in Florida. Gary has a son who is in IT and another son works for a brick laying company. He also has two grandchildren.

William Peters ’73 HVAC

William, who recently turned 80, has been working, and still works, as an usher for the Cardinals since 1957. In this time he has worked at all three Busch stadiums. He went to night school and after graduation went into appliance repair. He later went to work at the Airport commissary on their refrigeration system. Then he went to work for Rockwell. Read More

This was followed by a job building refrigerators for Hussman. When there was a strike, he went into shipping and receiving. He is still active and helps his son rehabbing homes. William lost his first wife after 33 years of marriage and has been married to his second wife for 19 years. He has 2 children, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

2008 1 Nold DavidDavid Nold ‘73  HVAC

While pursuing a B.S. Mechanical Engineering degree from UMR and after graduating from Ranken, I worked for Sears & Roebuck during the summers of 1973 – 1976 as a refrigeration and air-conditioning repair technician and installer of HVAC home equipment. I have worked in the power production industry since 1978.  I have worked three years in a 1800 MW coal fired plant in Southern Illinois followed by tours of duty as a startup and systems engineer at nuclear power plants in central Illinois (i.e., Clinton Power Station – 5 years), Mississippi Grand Gulf Nuclear Station – 10 years) , and the mid-Atlantic region from 1981-2006. Since 2006 I have been employed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency as a Reactor Systems Engineer in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation in Rockville MDRead More

My Ranken education provided me with the boost of confidence I needed to pursue a mechanical engineering degree from UMR.

The mid-morning breaks in the cafeteria and the lunch wagons showing up throughout the day. Having “Old man” Groves and John Mamino as instructors.  The physics classes were a riot with Mr. Wizard.  What was learned in the electrical work shops were the most beneficial attribute that carried me throughout my career.

I have earned my BSME from the University of Missouri -Rolla Class of 1978, received an MBA from Illinois State University Class of 1988, and I am a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Mississippi. I married late in life and have been married over 16 years but have not been blessed with children.