During its annual Holiday Luncheon on December 22, Columbus Academy honored its 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Michael S. Crane ’71 and Alumni Service Award recipient Annette Kuss.

“We are thrilled to have so many alumni in attendance to help pay tribute to our special honorees: one a graduate and tireless volunteer to the school, and one a former faculty member of 25 years,” said Alumni Board President Lauren Hilsheimer ’02 to the capacity crowd in the Grand Ballroom of The Westin Columbus. “The 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award and this year’s Alumni Service Award recipients have made countless contributions to the school and local community over the years.”


In her welcome, Head of School Melissa Soderberg listed some of the highlights from the fall semester on Academy’s campus and also provided a sneak peek at some of the new marketing materials that the Admissions Office will begin distributing to interested families in 2018.

“We have an environment where curiosity and enthusiasm spill out of our classrooms,” Soderberg said as she displayed images from a new admissions viewbook on two large screens. “The reason I’m showing this is to give you a sense of our focus on exploring, opening up our curriculum and being outdoors, which are all a part of our strategic vision.”

The awards portion of the program began with Hilsheimer introducing Kuss, who retired from Columbus Academy in 2011 after 25 years of service. She taught first grade for five years before finishing her career teaching fourth grade. Kuss studied and practiced alternative ways to teach math, skills she shared at educational conferences, especially her math manipulative courses for third grade teachers. She also helped coach upper school tennis and golf at Academy.

Kuss received her bachelor’s degree from Miami University and master’s from The Ohio State University. Before landing at Academy, she taught in West Lafayette, Indiana, Mayfield Heights, Ohio, and in the Whitehall school system. Prior to and since retiring, Annette volunteers with Broad Street Presbyterian and the Bexley public library. She enjoys watercoloring with her beloved RATS (Retired Academy Teachers) group, traveling and spending time with her eighth grandchildren. She and husband Steve have three children: Alex ’93, Allison ’95 and Andy ’99.

“Receiving this award is a humbling experience,” said Kuss during her acceptance speech. “I went to college to get my teaching degree, yes, and it was really hard work, especially my grad school experience with four children and a full-time teaching job. But it was the many hours spent at Columbus Academy – where I was surrounded by an amazing array of dedicated people all wanting to do their very best – where I really learned how to be a teacher.”


Crane was introduced by his two sons: Dan ’02, who lives in Columbus with his wife Christie and daughter Nora, and David ’06, who lives in New York City with his wife Liz.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is designed to recognize alumni who have brought positive recognition to the school, as well as to themselves, through service to and involvement with Columbus Academy and the community. This year’s honoree entered Academy in third grade and became a 12-season athlete, representing the Vikings in soccer, swimming and track before matriculating to Harvard College. After completing law school at The Ohio State University, he practiced law in Columbus for 11 years and then joined Crane Group in 1989 as general counsel. He is part of the third generation to join his family’s company and helps lead Crane Group and its operating businesses.

“My teachers and coaches at Academy had a more profound impact on me than my professors at college or law school,” Crane recalled. “Rainey Taylor, Kevin Morrin, Basil Duncan… are the ones who really molded my life.”


Crane has been an active community volunteer and has previously served on the boards of Columbus Academy, Capital University, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the US Bank Advisory Board for Columbus and the Campaign Leadership Committee for Franklin Park Conservatory. A past board president of The Buckeye Ranch and The Buckeye Ranch Foundation, he currently serves on the board of directors of White Castle System, Inc. He and his wife Paige served as co-chairs of The New Quest campaign that raised over $20 million for Academy.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

1976: W. Frank Morris ’25
1977: William A. Carlile Jr. ’31
1978: Sol M. Isaac ’29
1979: H. Bartley Arnold ’29
1980: Wilbur A. Smith ’45
1981: William K. Westwater ’31
1982: Charles Y. Lazarus ’31
1983: Gebhard W. Keny Sr. ’33
1984: John K. Stephan ’48
1985: Robert H. Jeffrey II ’47
1986: Mark G. Feinknopf ’54
1987: Russel G. Means Jr. ’44
1988: H. Thorp Minister Jr. ’43
1989: David P. Carlin ’56
1990: Sigmund J. Munster ’54
1991: Arthur I. Vorys ’41
1992: Roderick H. Willcox ’51
1993: John B. McCoy ’61
1994: Walter W. Estabrook ’36
1995: James B. Feibel ’51
1996: William H. Emig ’38
1997: Gilman D. Kirk Jr. ’59
1998: Herbert N. Lape II ’43
1999: Tahlman Krumm Jr. ’59
2000: John F. Wolfe ’61
2001: Philip E. Carlin ’58
2002: Milton Taylor Sr. ’45
2003: Robert Lazarus ’45
2004: Herbert S. Cook Jr. ’60
2005: Sheldon A. Taft ’55
2006: Don M. Casto III ’62
2007: J. Jeffrey McNealey ’62
2008: Charles R. Saxbe ’65
2009: Daniel A. Carmichael ’36
2010: William D. Kientz ’40
2011: Stanley H. Katz ’50
2012: Stephen C. Brown ’58
2013: Theodore W. Coons ’68
2014: Charles H. Walker ’69
2015: Robert L. Fox ’67
2016: Herbert P. Wolman ’55
2017: Michael S. Crane ’71

Alumni Service Award Recipients

1989: Rufus Curry
1990: Dana Whiting
1991: Rainey Taylor
1992: John Detrick ’53
1993: Bill Putnam
1994: Phil Hess
1995: Martha Wood
1996: Basil “Mac” Duncan
1997: Glenna Spencer
1998: Kevin Morrin Jr.
1999: David Winslow
2000: Dick Price
2001: Barbara Klausing
2002: James Stahl
2003: Sue Henthorn
2004: Rita Wooten
2005: Liese Kuehn
2006: Tim Hildreth ’69
2007: Betsy David
2009: Kelly Moody
2010: Bob Handy
2011: Lou Schultz
2012: Larry Booth
2013: MaryEve Corrigan
2014: Carol Krell
2015: Vicki Ross
2016: Cynthia Wilson
2017: Annette Kuss