Alumni

Nicholas D. Ricco Sr.

Nicholas D. Ricco Sr. (’61), 86, a longtime supporter of UNT, died May 4 in Plano.

He was a military veteran with 24 years of service, first with the U.S. Army National Guard in New York and then with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. He was an Air Force navigator-bombardier and an instructor of pilots and navigators before entering North Texas in 1959, where he studied banking and accounting while continuing to fly with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He earned his business degree in 1961. After the U.S. Navy recruited him in 1963 for his aviation skills, he became the first non-pilot in the Navy and Navy Reserve to be appointed as executive officer and commanding officer of naval flying squadrons. He retired from the Navy Reserve as a commander in 1974.

Simultaneously, he built a successful career in the insurance, real estate and finance businesses, developing the largest personally owned insurance agency in Texas and building and acquiring 45 buildings and other properties between 1971 and 2003. He was the president of Ricco Properties and general partner of Ricco Family Partners Ltd.

He returned to UNT in 1999 to pursue graduate studies in journalism. A recipient of the Green Glory Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007, he was a major supporter of the university. He served on advisory boards and contributed to the College of Music, the Mayborn School of Journalism and the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, where he is a member of the Hall of Fame. He also contributed to Emerald Eagle Honors and other programs, and was among the first financial supporters of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. With his wife, Anna, he mentored hundreds of UNT students through the years, was a member of the McConnell Society and created UNT’s Ricco Ethics Scholarship competition in 2011. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Mayborn Medallion for his commitment to his alma mater. The Cmdr. Nicholas and Anna Ricco Music Dean’s Suite was dedicated in 2018.

Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. May 8 at Rhoton Funeral Home, 1511 S. Interstate 35E, in Carrollton. Interment will be at 10 a.m. May 9 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas, followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, 2400 N. Josey Lane. Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation or to any campus in the UNT System.

Don Buchholz

Don Buchholz (’52), 90, a longtime UNT supporter and former member of the UNT System Board of Regents, died April 30 in Dallas.

He served in the U.S. Air Force and attended North Texas thanks to the GI Bill. After Buchholz graduated from North Texas, he worked in several accounting firms before co-founding Southwest Securities, now known as Hilltop Holdings, an investment banking and banking services provider. He retired in 2011 after a career marked by innovation, with positions including Southwest Securities’ CEO and president, governor of the New York Stock Exchange, and board member for the Securities Industry Association, National Association of Securities Dealers, and the Texas Stock and Bond Dealers Association.

He served on the UNT System Board of Regents from 2007 to 2013 as the system experienced record growth. He also was a member of the UNT Foundation Board of Directors, the College of Business Advisory Board, the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and The Campaign for UNT Executive and Steering Committees. He and his wife, Ruth, were members of UNT’s 1890 Society, McConnell Society and Diamond Eagles Society, and made numerous significant gifts for research, education and scholarship to benefit students, especially those in the field of education. 

They established the Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education, a research center studying critical community college issues and developing future community college leaders. They also established the Southwest Securities Superintendent Certification Scholarship, the Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership, the Donald A. Buchholz Doctoral Program in Educational Administration Scholarship, and gave to the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, Athletics and Emerald Eagles Scholars.  

Buchholz received numerous awards from UNT, including the Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 1999, the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and an honorary doctorate in 2015.

A memorial service will take place from 2 to 2:45 p.m. May 6 at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, with a reception following. Memorials gifts may be made for the Bill J. Priest Fund by mailing to the University of North Texas, University Advancement, 1155 Union Circle #311250, Denton, Texas 76203.

Ken Ferstl

Ken Ferstl (’63), 78, who taught in library science for 20 years, died Sept. 20 in Denton. He first worked at UNT from 1963 to 1964 as a cataloger in Willis Library. After earning a master’s in library science from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1967, he began teaching at UNT in 1969. He briefly worked at Emily Fowler Library in Denton and then earned a Ph.D. in library science from Indiana University Bloomington in 1977 before returning to UNT. A member of the 1890 Society, he created the Kenneth L. Ferstl Scholarship in 2005. He received the UNT School of Library and Information Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award in 1989

Bhargav Reddy Ittireddy

Bhargav Reddy Ittireddy (’18 M.S.), Minneapolis :: The College of Engineering graduate was a native of India who recently moved to Minneapolis to begin his career. Reddy is remembered for his positive outlook on life and his willingness to help others.

Katherine Marie Gallets

Katherine Marie Gallets (’10), San Antonio :: She worked briefly as a computer programmer and enjoyed traveling, reading and creating art. At UNT, she was a member of the Society of Women Engineers and graduated first in her class of computer science majors.

Bertrand Howard Batiste

Bertrand Howard "Randy" Batiste (’15 M.S.), Dallas :: He worked as assistant director of Student AccessAbility at UT-Dallas, and was known for championing campus accessibility for people with disabilities. He was paraplegic, but friends noted he never complained about his own disability.

Michelle Melancon-Dunkins

Michelle Melancon-Dunkins (’97, ’04 M.A.), Dallas :: She worked for 16 years as an English teacher and coach at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, where students often said she was their favorite teacher or made a difference in their lives. She also taught English at El Centro College in Dallas. She was known for her quick wit and love of literature. Survivors include her sister Janet Melancon (’89 M.P.A.)

Karen M. Brucks

Karen M. Brucks (’82 M.A., ’88 Ph.D.), Milwaukee, Wisconsin :: She was associate professor emeritus in the mathematical sciences department at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where she had worked for 24 years. She served as department chair, as well as associate dean of natural sciences, in the College of Letters and Science.

Rahul Dewan

Rahul Dewan (’81), Columbus, Indiana :: He received his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from UNT Health Science Center, then the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, in 1981. He served in the Gulf War as a colonel in the U.S. Army and also worked for Walter Reed Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Center, National Institutes of Health and Madigan Army Medical Center. He served as an oncologist for 20 years at Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, Indiana.

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