Two Harrisonville alumni selected for Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame

The Harrisonville Public School Foundation will induct two Harrisonville High School graduates into the HHS Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame on February 18. George T. Sweitzer, Jr., class of 1939, and Dr. Julie (Wooten) Gaddie, class of 1991, will be honored during a ceremony at the Wildcat basketball games. The community is invited to a reception in the Harrisonville High School library from 5:30-6:30 p.m. that night.

George T. Sweitzer, Jr. was a World War II veteran, a community leader, and a respected attorney. After graduation from HHS, Sweitzer enrolled at the University of Missouri to become a lawyer, but then enlisted in the US Army soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He reported for duty in March 1943.

Sweitzer was part of the 95th Infantry Division and landed on Omaha Beach in France 10 days after D-Day on June 16, 1944. He fought throughout France and was part of the group that liberated Paris in August of that year.

During a battle, he was wounded and captured by Germans. He was sent to a prisoner of war hospital where he stayed until the end of the war. He received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, two Prisoner of War medals and a Combat Infantry Badge for his valor.

After the war, Sweitzer returned to law school and upon graduation, he returned to Harrisonville to begin his career with the Will H. Hargis Law Firm in 1948. In 1950, he ran for and won the position of Cass County Prosecuting Attorney which he held for two terms. In 1954, he started his own law firm on the square where he practiced law for 50 years.

Sweitzer was a civic leader as well, serving as president of the Kiwanis Club, commander of the Harrisonville VFW Post 4409, president of the Cass County Bar Association, first president and organizer of the Cass County Young Democrats club, funds chair for the Cass County American Red Cross, a member of the American Legion Post 42, and the VFW Judge Advocate for the state of Missouri.

Sweitzer was married to his wife Virgina in 1948 and they were married for 58 years until she passed away in 2006. Sweitzer passed away in 2008.

He will be represented at the Wall of Fame events by his grandson, Gabe Sweitzer.

Dr. Julie (Wooten) Gaddie is the President of the Mosaic Life Care Foundation in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Foundation is focused on providing accessible healthcare and educating communities to ensure healthy living in northwest Missouri.

During her time at HHS, Dr. Gaddie was an active member of the marching band, Music Makers and cheer squad. Following graduation from HHS in 1991, she earned her bachelor’s degree with certifications in elementary and special education from Central Missouri State University. She then went on to earn her master’s and specialist’s degrees in educational leadership from Northwest Missouri State University. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Leadership and Higher Education from the University of Nebraska.

Dr. Gaddie began her career as a special education teacher in Enid, OK, then moved to the St. Joseph School District in 1996. In 2000, she started her administrative career as the Principal at Pickett Elementary School, then continued as principal at Lindbergh Elementary School – both in the St. Joseph School District through 2018.

During her time as principal, Dr. Gaddie had the opportunity to be a part of an international partnership with the United Kingdom. She was on a team of health care providers, legislators, private agencies and educational professionals who worked together to collaborate on community-based health care access. The collaboration included a visit by the United Kingdom delegation to St. Joseph and a return visit by Dr. Gaddie and her colleagues to the United Kingdom in 2009.

In 2018, she joined the Mosaic Life Care Foundation as the president. She said, “The Foundation believes in championing education and empowering people to live their best lives. When healthcare is needed, our organization is dedicated to ensuring exceptional healthcare is available, right in our region. We create a healthy today by actively seeking ways to philanthropically support advancements in patient care across Mosaic Life Care through hospital philanthropy, our hospital auxiliary and through volunteer services. We believe in a healthy tomorrow and provide civic engagement programs where youth are encouraged to think creatively, work collaboratively and problem solve real-life challenges and opportunities. We want to become healthy together by partnering with schools and organizations to create healthy livable communities.”

Currently, Mosaic Life Care Foundation is working on a $19 million project to bring a Children’s Discovery Center to downtown St. Joseph, MO. The Discovery Center’s goal is to create an atmosphere that sparks imagination and curiosity, enhance creativity, and teach the basics of health and wellness within a place of safety, beauty, wonder, and magic.

Dr. Gaddie is married to Chad and they have two children, Carson and Ava.

Inductees are selected based on their significant contributions to their communities or fields of work. Nominations are accepted continuously. Each year’s submission deadline for consideration is Oct. 31.