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2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Washington and Lee University is proud to announce this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winners. The recipients will receive their awards during Alumni Weekend, May 2 – 5, 2019.


Ball_Willis_web-150x150 2019 Distinguished Alumni AwardsWillis M. Ball

Willis (Billy) M. Ball III ‘69

A commerce major, Billy was a four-year letterman in swimming, serving as co-captain during his senior year. He was a member of the track team as a junior and senior. In 1969, he was selected as a member of the All-America Collegiate Swimming Team in the 100 yard and 200 yard backstroke. As a senior, he served as president of the Varsity Club. Billy was a member of Phi Delta Theta and the Sigma Society.

After graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy, was commissioned an Ensign in 1970 and earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1971. After his naval service, Billy began a career in the securities industry. He is in the process of retiring after a 30-year career at Merrill Lynch where he serves as senior member of the Ball, Courtney & Patrick Group, a team of nine which oversees approximately $1.2 billion of client assets.

Billy has served as president of the Board of Directors of the Child Guidance Clinic, president of the Board of Directors of Daniel Memorial, a trustee of the Jacksonville Art Museum, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, president of the Board of Governors of Timuquana Country Club and a member of the Board of Trustees of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast.

Billy was the director of the W&L Alumni Board from 1999 – 2003. He served as the Jacksonville Chapter president, several of his reunion committees, and on the Parents Leadership Council. Billy is married to the former Chris Butler, a 1969 graduate of Hollins. Their three children graduated from W&L: Butler ’96; Christopher ’00; and Sallie ’01. They are the proud grandparents of two grandsons and four granddaughters.


McMillan-Rick-150x150 2019 Distinguished Alumni AwardsRick McMillan

Rick McMillan ’69

Rick was a Commerce School major, a member of Phi Delta Theta and played freshman basketball and varsity football. He worked part time in the Admissions Office for Dean Farrar, giving campus tours to interested high school students, was a member of the Sigma Society, the Mongolian Minks and the Student Control Committee, and served as president of the Phi Delt house in his senior year.

After college, Rick received a JD degree from Tulane Law School and an LLM from NYU Law School, and he served three years as a lieutenant in the Navy JAG Corps. In 1976 he began a career as a corporate and securities lawyer at the Jones Walker firm in New Orleans. In addition to practicing law, he was active in firm management, serving as head of the firm’s Corporate & Securities Practice Group and chairman of the firm’s Executive Committee. After more than three decades at Jones Walker, he moved to Phoenix to join client Freeport-McMoRan Inc. as its General Counsel, and he continues to serve in that position.

Rick also has been involved in professional volunteer activities, including as a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Negotiated Acquisitions, chairman of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Section of Corporation and Business Law, and as a member of its Committee on Bar Admissions. He has spoken frequently at continuing legal education events, primary on corporate law issues and legal ethics. On the civic and charitable front, he has served as president of the board of directors of the Louise S. McGehee School, and on the boards of Isidore Newman School, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, the Business Council of Greater New Orleans, and the New Orleans and Phoenix Chambers of Commerce.

Rick married his college sweetheart, Lynne Pottharst, who graduated from Sweet Briar in 1969, and has been an active W&L volunteer over the years, chairing several class reunions and serving on the Parents’ Council, the New Orleans Area Scholarship Selection Committee, and the Alumni Board of Directors. Two of his three children, Hillary Wyche ’98 and Lee McMillan ’02, graduated from W&L. He has six grandchildren, all of whom he expects to see at W&L in coming years.


Berkheimer-Pakenas-Elizabeth-150x150 2019 Distinguished Alumni AwardsBetsy Berkheimer Pakenas

Betsy Berkheimer Pakenas ’94

A biology major, Betsy graduated cum laude and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is currently a managing director and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley in Frederick, Maryland. As The Berkheimer Group at Morgan Stanley’s managing partner, she oversees all aspects of the practice while working closely with the team’s seven-person staff to provide comprehensive wealth planning to families and business owners.

A financial advisor since 1998, Betsy has been named to Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors,” Forbes “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors,” Working Mother magazine’s “Top Wealth Adviser Moms,” and Financial Times “Top 400 Financial Advisors.” In recognition of her achievements, Betsy was featured in Morgan Stanley’s national ad campaign in 2015 and has been a speaker at multiple Barron’s industry conferences. She is currently a board member of the Association of Professional Investment Consultants.

Active in her community, Betsy has held leadership positions in local organizations including the Frederick County Commission for Women and the Rotary Club of Frederick, where she is a past president of the two hundred-member service organization. She is currently a director of Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Betsy has served on three of her reunion committees and is chair of her 25th reunion this year. She has also been very active in the Cumberland Valley alumni chapter, serving as secretary, treasurer and president. Betsy and her husband, Peter, live in Middletown, Maryland, with their two children.