Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Berger's Bigwigs the Post-Dispatch Columnist Selects His 25 Most Influential St. Louisans

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Berger's Bigwigs the Post-Dispatch Columnist Selects His 25 Most Influential St. Louisans

Article excerpt

Mission Impossible. That was my reply when the assignment landed in my lap. What? Pick only 25 people as the most influential St. Louisans? How about picking 250? Not enough space, my editor said.

So I came up with a list that is sure to incur the wrath of readers who believe that others should have been included. (Don't call me. Call my editor.)

How to define "influential"? I see it as the power to do things like raise large sums of money for worthy causes, to direct large organizations well, to shape public policy and public opinion, and perhaps most important, to change lives for the better.

Two oughta-be names missing from the list are Michael Pulitzer, chairman of Pulitzer Publishing Co., and Emily Rauh Pulitzer, art historian and patron, philanthropist and member of the Pulitzer Co. board (but I guess it wouldn't look good if I included two people responsible for keeping bergers on Berger's grill).

So, here they are, in alphabetical order.


Joyce Aboussie - Owner of Telephone Contact Inc., a firm specializing in telemarketing and polling; national political director, longtime consultant and mouthpiece for U.S. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-St. Louis. Started as an intern in Gephardt's congressional office in 1977; headed his unsuccessful try for the Democratic nomination for president in '88. Respected by top Republicans as well as Democrats as someone with the technology and staff at her fingertips to reach thousands of potential political donors of millions of campaign dollars in one night's time.

Robert J. Baer - Business and civic leader. President of St. Louis-based UniGroup Inc., parent company of United Van Lines, Mayflower Transit and other transportation-related subsidiaries. Former executive director of Bi-State Development Agency. Former president of St. Louis Police Board. Hired former St. Louis Police Chief Clarence Harmon as a UVL executive after the chief resigned because of political pressure from police board members. Believed to be major backer of Harmon in his expected run for St. Louis mayor.

State Sen. J.B. "Jet" Banks - Powerful majority leader of the Missouri Senate and political powerbroker in North St. Louis. Heads a faction of the Missouri Democratic Party that rivals followers of U.S. Rep. William L. Clay for voting clout in St. Louis. As majority leader in the state Senate, he controls the flow of legislation on the floor. He has a big hand in running of the St. Louis Police Board, which is headed by his wife's goddaughter, and engineered the resignation of Chief Clarence Harmon and appointment of Chief Ronald Henderson.

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, S.J. - Dynamic president of St. Louis University and vigorous proponent of improving midtown St. Louis. Has led the university since 1987, coming here after 20 years at Loyola University of Chicago, where he grew up, the son of immigrant Italian parents. Since his arrival, he has raised and overseen the spending of more than $220 million in physical improvements to the campuses at Parks College, the Medical Center and the Frost Campus. Of the $220 million, $10 million was spent on the expansion of SLU's campus in Madrid, Spain. He turned down Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan's quest to name him to the St. Louis Police Board but serves on the boards of several civic and arts organizations.

Camilla "Kimmy" Brauer - Super-successful fund-raiser for a vast array of St. Louis charitable and arts organizations. Wife of Stephen F. Brauer, president of Hunter Engineering Co., they often co-host fund-raising events at their Ladue estate, Hunter Farms. List of do- good dinners she has run is so long, it would fill this page. For example, within the past year she has chaired, co-hosted or co- chaired such events as the Variety Club Dinner With the Stars, Friends of Mercantile Library Dinner and the Opera Theatre 20th anniversary gala. …

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