CLHS alumni recognized for accomplishments, service during 2022 graduation

May 25, 2021

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Concordia Lutheran High School is honoring its alumni for their accomplishments since graduation during the 2022 Commencement ceremony on May 29 at the Historic Embassy Theatre.

Ms. Patricia Wilson, 1978
Distinguished Alumnus Award

Patricia Wilson, a 1978 graduate and the Associate Dean of Baylor Law, is being recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award for her achievements since graduation. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor given to a Concordia graduate. It recognizes graduates who have demonstrated an ongoing dedication to Christian principles and the church, with both lifetime and personal achievements.

At Baylor Law, she has been a member of the faculty since 1993. During that time, she has taught courses on Employment Discrimination, Employment Relations, Labor Law, and Family Law. 

Her love of Family Law has also led to her service on boards to help children in need, especially those who are abused and neglected, and notably to her and her husband, Michael, fostering 20 children together. They also have two children of their own and two adopted children.  

Before joining Baylor Law, she practiced law at Bracewell and Patterson in Houston, Texas, Johnson and Swanson in Dallas, Texas, and American Airlines in Fort Worth, Texas, where she managed millions of dollars of litigation matters, drafted contracts for diverse topics such as software licensing and health care plan administration, and handled matters involving airline regulation and employment discrimination. She brings this unique experience into the classroom with her every day.

Following her time at Concordia, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Purdue University in 1982 and then earned her Juris Doctor (law degree) from Northwestern University Law School in Chicago where she received the John Henry Wigmore Scholar (full tuition scholarship).

During her career, she has served on various committees and boards in service to her university, church, and community. She is also published and is a contributing editor for General Practice Digest. She also speaks regularly at legal education seminars in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago on such topics as legal ethics and complex real estate negotiations.

As the Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, Ms. Wilson will be speaking at Concordia’s commencement on May 29 at the Historic Embassy Theatre.

Mr. Craig Linnemeier, 1988
Distinguished Service Award

Craig Linnemeier, a 1988 graduate and Chief Financial Officer for FCI Construction, is being honored with the Distinguished Service Award because of his dedicated support, activity and service to the ministry of CLHS.

Since 2006, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Concordia Educational Foundation (CEF), which supports the high school with support for scholarships and other projects each year. In his service, he has helped to shape the investment of the impact that CEF has on Concordia’s students, most notably as the Board’s Treasurer.

He was instrumental in his service on a special task force for the Board of Directors for the Concordia Educational Association (school board) to help to reshape and restructure the school’s budget.

He has also served other community organizations as a member of the Board of Directors for The Lutheran Foundation (from 2006 to 2015) and Lutheran Life Villages (from 1997 to 2012 and 2016 through today). He continues to serve his church and the high school in numerous ways with his volunteer heart.

Following his years at Concordia, he worked as an accountant and auditor at various firms in Texas and then returned to Fort Wayne in 1996 to work as the senior manager for Baden Gage & Schroeder, LLC and now as the CFO for FCI Construction.

As he explained about why he serves, “I have been involved in these organizations because I believe in their mission which benefit our community. … Our family is proud of the support and mission of CEF by providing scholarships to other kids at CLHS to be able to experience a Christian education.”

Mr. Mark Abdon, 2004
Neale M. Shank Award

Mr. Mark Abdon, a 2004 graduate and Associate Director of Growth for Greek IV at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Indianapolis, is being awarded the Neale M. Shank Award. The Neale M. Shank Award, named in honor of an alumnus who died while serving in Iraq, honors those younger than 40 who have made significant contributions to their given career, community, church or the high school.

At InterVarsity, he works in discipleship, evangelism, leadership development, and preaching and teaching to the young people at colleges locally and across the nation. Notably, during his time working with DePauw University, the ministry grew from 50 to 150 students, and at its peak, saw 15-plus students coming to faith in Jesus each year. During a five-year time period of working with the fraternity and sorority members in the Indiana and Illinois region, he and his team saw approximately 350 students come a new or renewed faith in Jesus.

In his church, he and his wife, Laura, lead a college-age program for “Christian Teaching and Training.” They also serve as Deacon Assistants and helped to organize teachings and trainings to help their congregation grow in their ability to cross cultures. They also help other church members learn how to share the gospel in their spheres of influence.

In Indianapolis, he and his wife intentionally moved into a low-income neighborhood in need of good neighbors to work as a positive influence in their community. They have hosted meals with their neighbors and connected with kids in the area. They give them rides to church and have even invited some young moms to live with them while they got back on their feet. In the 10 years since they have lived there, the neighborhood has dramatically changed for the better.

Following graduation from CLHS, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University and is working on a Master’s Degree in Extension Studies from Harvard University (expected 2023 graduation).

He notes that his first leadership opportunity with his Koinonia group really influenced his ability to be able to lead Bible studies and share his faith into his college years and beyond.

He and his wife have three sons, Joshua, Jonathan, and Benaiah.

Richard Ridley, Jr., 1956
JROTC Hall of Honor

Richard Ridley, a 1956 graduate and a member of the JROTC Cadets, was inducted this year into the JROTC Hall of Honor, an organization which honors former members of the JROTC Cadets who are impacting their communities in their career paths, military service, or community service.

Mr. Ridley was the first African American to become a firefighter in Fort Wayne. When he joined the department in 1961, he wanted a good career to support his family, but he didn’t think he’d be breaking down barriers and helping pave the way for future generations.

He was the first African American to attend Bethlehem Lutheran School and Concordia Lutheran High School, graduating in 1956. It was around this time that Mr. Ridley came back to Fort Wayne from serving in the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles). He attended college at International Business College in Fort Wayne.

Following that time, the opportunity with the fire department presented itself, and he easily passed through the application process and was sworn into the department by Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Mike Burns on October 7, 1961. 

Through the resistance, Mr. Ridley remained stoic and became an exceptional firefighter. He rose through the ranks and retired as a District Chief in 1985. He also developed the physical fitness program that the department still uses in part today.

He was recognized at the JROTC Officer’s Ball on April 22.  

Concordia Lutheran High School, located at 1601 St. Joe River Drive in Fort Wayne, Ind., was founded in 1935 as a private, co-educational Lutheran high school open to students of all faiths and backgrounds. With Christ at the center, Concordia continues to pursue educational excellence that equips individuals for lifelong learning and service as disciples of Jesus Christ. Learn more at