Meet the Class of 2014
Robert "Bobby" Dernier, Raytown South High School, Class of 1975
Robert “Bobby” Dernier graduated from Raytown South High in 1975. At South, he was named an All-Conference, All-District and All-State shortstop. From 1976-1977, he attended Longview Community College.
Although he was offered a baseball scholarship to the University of Kansas and a baseball scholarship to Wichita State University, he opted to become a professional baseball player and signed with Philadelphia Phillies in 1978. Bobby played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1978 to 1983. The Phillies were the 1983 National League Champions, losing to Baltimore in the World Series that year.
Bobby played for the Chicago Cubs from 1984 to 1987. While playing with the Cubs in 1984, he was the first outfielder and one of only two in Chicago Cub’s history to receive the Gold Glove Award. He returned to the Phillies in 1988, where he finished his career in 1989. He played professional baseball in the major leagues for ten years and played in 904 games.
Bobby coached for the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs Minor Leagues as Coordinator from 1997-98 and 2006-2010 respectively. He was a Major League Coach for the Chicago Cubs from 2010-2011. In 1995, Bobby was inducted into the Reading, Pennsylvania Baseball Hall of Fame. He was honored as “CUB Legend” at the 100th Birthday Celebration of Wrigley Field on April 23, 2014. Bobby values his coaching experiences from little league to the majors and everything in between.
He is currently semi-retired and participates in various Major League Baseball Alumni Events, including CUBS Convention, CUBS Fantasy Camp, and CUBS spring training. He serves as the Cubs Alumni Ambassador periodically throughout the summer.
Bobby feels blessed to be a father and grandfather. He has four children and six grandchildren.
He considers baseball a life-long love affair, and he is very proud of his induction into the 2014 Raytown Schools Alumni Hall of Fame.
Dr. George C. Gibson, Raytown High School, Class of 1963
Dr. George C. Gibson graduated from Raytown High in 1963. He received his Bachelor of Science in International Relations from the United States Air Force Academy, where he was a Distinguished Graduate and two-year starter as the offensive center on the football team. He received his Air Force commission as a Second Lieutenant, and earned his Masters and Ph.D. from Ohio State University.
George served 20 years in the Air Force in Strategic Planning, Intelligence, and Space Satellite Programs, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. This included six years at the Air Force Academy serving as an Associate Professor in Political Science and an assistant football coach.
He developed strategic plans for the U.S Air Force, at the Pentagon, in Washington D.C., and provided military strategy briefings to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the State Department, and the White House. He managed highly classified satellite programs and assisted in transforming technologies into operational space capabilities.
George continued supporting the Air Force and Dept. of Defense as a ManTech International Vice President from 1995-2007, managing, authoring, and contributing to over 40 proposals for space systems support, software development, Information Technology and computer support.
In 2007, George established GT Technologies, LLC. He currently serves as the company’s CEO, overseeing a 20 employee staff. He leads corporate client multi-million dollar proposals and mentors small businesses. George takes pride in supporting his wife, Jackie Hansen, also a 1963 Raytown graduate, in rearing their three children, Tami, John, and Ben and spending time with their grandchildren.
Bobbi Johnson Kauffman, Raytown High School, Class of 1963
Bobbi Johnson Kauffman graduated from Raytown High in 1963, where she was valedictorian of her class, then attended the University of Kansas for one year in the Honors program serving as Freshmen Class Secretary.
At age 19, after winning the Miss District of Columbia USA crown, Bobbi became the first representative from the District of Columbia to become Miss USA. She competed in the Miss Universe 1964 pageant and was a semi-finalist.
While reigning as the 1964 Miss USA, Bobbi made appearances in the United States, Japan, Greece, Taiwan, and The Philippines. She spoke at schools, modeled for pageant sponsors, appeared on television, and visited hospitalized children.
During an interview at the Miss USA pageant, Bobbi answered a question regarding what she would like to do after her year as Miss USA. Numerous companies offered her jobs immediately when she said, “I want to be a computer programmer.” A year later she took a job as an applications engineer with General Electric in Chicago, where she wrote software, taught Basic, and represented the GE Computer Department at trade shows.
After her first son’s birth, Bobbi stayed home to raise her children and support her husband’s career. She also modeled and programmed part time, and volunteered for church and school organizations. Her family lived for five years in Trinidad and Indonesia.
Bobbi later graduated magna cum laude from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. After passing her Certified Public Accountant exam, she worked in tax accounting. She served on the board of her American Contract Bridge League unit and was selected for the National Goodwill Committee.
After her husband’s death, she stayed in the Houston area. Bobbi has two married sons and five grandchildren. She enjoys visiting family and friends or touring the USA and overseas. She plays duplicate bridge and is proud to have attained the rank of Gold Life Master.
Amber J. Lawson, Raytown South High School, Class of 1990
Amber J. Lawson graduated from Raytown South High in 1990. The Amber J. Lawson Distinguished Performance Award established in Amber J’s name is given annually by the Raytown South music department. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatrical Performance from the University of Missouri, receiving the Greek Week Best Actress Award.
She began her acting career with Second City (Improvisational Theater) in Chicago. Under the auspices of Comedy Cocktail, Amber J partnered with Fox Entertainment Group, AOL, NBC Universal, Mania TV, Babelgum, Intel and Warner Brothers, and others to produce comedy shows including Comedy Cocktail and National Lampoon Lemmings.
Amber J is a producer and entrepreneur who currently programs and produces online content and is best known as the founder and CEO of Comedy Gives Back, a global multi-platform live-streamed stand-up comedy event benefiting charities. Amber J has gathered traditional and digital native comics together leveraging global platforms to raise money for charities. Headlining acts that have joined in Amber J’s efforts include, Jimmy Kimmel, Dane Cook, Garfunkel and Oates, Kevin Nealon, and Marc Maron.
Amber J has received numerous digital media awards and nominations from the Streamy Awards and Producers Guild of America. She received the 2011 National Association of Television Program Executives Luminary Award.
She was also nominated for the 2014 Interactive Original Emmy for the Comedy Gives Back 2013 Interactive Digital Telethon, and was the winner of the International Academy Web Television Best Live Event at Consumer Electronics Show/New Media Expo for Comedy Gives Back.
Amber J resides in Los Angeles, California.
Jeff Lisenby, Raytown South High School, Class of 1973
Jeff Lisenby graduated from Raytown South High in 1973. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Missouri in accordion performance and music composition and later received a Master’s Degree in music.
Jeff won bronze and silver medals for the United States in international accordion championships, and as a free-lance pianist, accordionist, and musical director, he has performed with the Nashville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Lexington, and West Palm Beach orchestras. He also music-directed and performed on the Broadway stage in Ring of Fire, The music of Johnny Cash. Jeff played keyboards with the touring shows of Wicked and Jersey Boys and has accompanied Brenda Lee, Pavarotti, Blake Shelton, Dolly Parton, Lee Greenwood, and Donna Summer.
Jeff was a music instructor at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He also taught singers and instrumentalists for cruise ship production shows through Gary Musick Productions. He played on many recordings including the Grammy-winning Songs from the Neighborhood, The music of Mister Rogers, and his own CDs, Walkin’ the Winter Wonderland and A Spy in Tortuga.
Lisenby served as a member of Broadcast Music Inc., the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, The Nashville Composers’ Collective, the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, and the Brentwood, Tennessee Church of Christ.
Jeff’s wife Pam is the costumer for the Nashville Opera and many Nashville-based music videos and movies. Their daughter Jaclyn Brown is a studio singer and music director for Chaffin’s Barn dinner theater, and the head of Chick Singer Night at the world-famous Bluebird Café in Nashville. Pam and Jeff’s son Jonathan just completed his Master’s Degree in Art, specializing in painting. Jeff’s mother Doris still attends the Ivanhoe Church in Raytown and is a volunteer for Kansas City Hospice.
Jeff Lisenby passed away in early 2021.
Steve Rees, Raytown High School, Class of 1967
Richard Stephen Rees graduated from Raytown High in 1967. He received a Bachelor Degree in Architecture from Kansas State University in 1973. Before graduating he served as a student advisor on the environment to the Secretary of the Interior and later the Environmental Protection Agency.
He was chair of the first Earth Day at Kansas State. Steve was registered as a Professional Architect in Missouri and Kansas in 1976.
He served on the Missouri and Kansas City Arts Councils and was a member of the Kansas City Municipal Arts Commission. He also worked as an architect in training with Muchow Associates, Denver, Colorado, and Patty Berkebile and Nelson Architects in Kansas City.
In 1981, Steve founded Rees Architecture as a sole-proprietorship. He was co-founder and partner of Gastinger Rees and Walker Architects, Kansas City from 1982–1992 and was founder and partner of Rees Masilionis Turley Architecture, Kansas City From 1992-2005.
Steve raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1996 and worked and lived on a sailboat in the Caribbean for two years. In 2010, after retiring as an architect for thirty years, he founded a program for at-risk teens from Kansas City’s urban core focusing on education, technology, and the environment.
It started as a single class at DeLaSalle High School that evolved into a stand-alone not-for-profit called MINDDRIVE, currently serving 50 students from 16 high schools working with 35 mentors on projects utilizing hands-on experiential learning.
Students restore and convert vehicles to electric power and also learn communication skills in writing, photography, videography, editing, and social media. In addition, evening classes are offered in welding, lighting design, and 3D CAD drawing.