For 142 years, the citizens of Brenham and Washington County have encouraged and enthusiastically supported public education. As the oldest public school district in Texas, Brenham ISD is once again celebrating the proud history and achievements of the district and some of its most distinguished alumni. The public is invited to join in a special luncheon and recognition event on Friday, September 1, 2017 in the Blinn College Student Center Banquet Room.
The event will begin with a meal at 11:30 am and will feature a noon program honoring four Brenham ISD graduates who have distinguished themselves as leaders and visionaries in their community and beyond. This year the Distinguished Alumni honorees will be Matt Bentke, Michael Harrison, Joel Romo and Dr. Milton (Chip) Routt, Jr.
Matt Bentke graduated from Brenham High School in 1991. He was involved in athletics, playing on the state championship Cub baseball team in 1988, the state tournament team in 1989 and was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the Major League baseball draft his senior year at Brenham High School. After high school, he attended Blinn College and played on the 1992 Blinn College World Series team. He then went on to Texas A&M University, where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and Management degree in 1995.
Bentke, the General Manager and CEO of Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, currently serves as leader of an electric distribution cooperative serving 14 Texas counties with 285 employees and 94,000 electric meters. He has been a civic leader in Brenham for many years. As Vice Chairman of the Brenham Economic Development Foundation, he helps orient the economic future of the area. His other achievements include serving on the Baylor Scott & White Operating Board in Brenham and the Texas Electric Cooperatives Government Relations Board in Austin.
Having been born and raised in Brenham, Bentke has been active in promoting and growing community development through increased emphasis on volunteerism and engagement.
His community service includes the Bluebonnet Electric volunteer program, various children’s athletic service opportunities and various philanthropic endeavors. In addition to community service and managing the 5th largest cooperative in the state of Texas and the 35th largest cooperative in the United States, Bentke is devoted to his family, including wife, Rachel, and children, Brooke and Drake. He and his family live in Brenham.
Michael Harrison, a graduate of Brenham High School’s Class of 1976, attended Blinn College and then went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in Theoretical Physics and a minor in Quantum Chromodynamics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has also earned distinction and additional hours toward his Master’s program in Aerospace Systems Architecture at the University of Southern California. His honors include being selected as “TRW (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge) Space Technologies Black Engineer of the Year” in both the categories of Entrepreneur and Technical.
While his current business title is that of Senior Technical Staff of the Electronics Product Center, Harrison’s educational experiences are vastly varied and extend far beyond the profession of aerospace engineering. These experiences include Optics for Astronomy at El Camino College in California, the study of the Book of Exegesis at Hope international University and Basic Cooking at the Culinary Institute of America. He has presented at various speaking engagements. An active film maker since the age of 12, Harrison studied Motion Picture Production at the American Film Institute for Advanced Film Studies, influencing him to produce an Independant time travel murder mystery from his own script. The project “Chronos 5.0” debuted at the American Film Market and was represented at the International Festival of Film at Cannes France.
Harrison is active in his church and has served for 20 years as the Chairman of Missions at University Christian Church and is serving his fourth year on the Board of Trustees for Hope International University. As a member of the Compassion International organization, he is supporting a child in Uganda and a child in Togo. He lives in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and is the son of Judge Eddie and Margaret Harrison of Brenham.
Joel Romo graduated from Brenham High School in 1990, attended Blinn College and graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1994. Romo joined the staff of the late St. Rep. Dan Kubiak in 1993, eventually serving as Chief of Staff until 1998. During his tenure with Kubiak, Romo worked with the leadership of Blinn College in helping secure the initial state funding for Blinn College’s campus in Bryan. Romo worked for various members of the Texas Legislature and eventually served as Government Relations Director for American Heart Association from 2005 to 2015 where he implemented lifesaving legislation such as securing AED’s in all public schools, CPR as a high school graduation requirement, and newborn screening for congenital heart defects.
Romo launched his own public relations firm, Texana Public Affairs, in 2015 which focuses on legislative and business consulting. Capitol Inside, a non-partisan online Texas political newsletter, has recognized Romo as one of the top ten non-profit lobbyist for the last six years. Joel is currently working with the “father of aerobics”, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, in implementing public health policies in Texas and throughout the country ensuring students are receiving quality physical education and helping create a healthier future for our children.
Romo currently serves as the President of the Chappell Hill Historical Society, Chair of the Volunteer Services Council for the Brenham State Supported Living Center, and a Board member of the Brenham ISD Education Foundation. His many service and achievement awards include the 1994 Award of Appreciation from the Washington County EMS organization, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Heart Association in 2011 and 2013, and the Friend of Public Health Award from Texas Public Health Coalition in 2016. In 2010, he was awarded the “Man of the Year” award from Chappell Hill Chamber of Commerce and has been a strong supporter of many of the festivals and events that help promote Chappell Hill and Washington County.
Romo is the son of the Soledad Romo and the late Seferino Romo and is married to Denise Romo. They have four sons - Robert, Johnson, Andrew and David Joel.
Milton L. (Chip) Routt Jr., MD graduated from Brenham High School in 1976, majored in Zoology at Texas A&M, and became a medical doctor in 1983 after attending the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston. He is an academic orthopaedic trauma surgeon and currently serves as the Dr. Andrew R. Burgess Professor and Endowed Chair at the The University of Texas McGovern Medical School, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Houston.
Routt’s numerous professional awards include the annual Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas McGovern Medical School from 2013-2017, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Achievement Award in 2017, the Young Investigator’s Award from the Western Orthopaedic Association in 2014 and 2015, and the Howard Rosen AO annual teaching award. He received the annual Orthopedic Residents’ Teaching award at both the University of Washington and UTH-McGovern medical schools. He was awarded the Jack McDaniels’ AO Traveling Fellowship and helped to establish the Neil E. Green M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at Vanderbilt University. In addition, he has received several financial research grants for advanced medical procedures, and has been recognized as a “Best Doctor” in both Seattle and Houston.
Dr. Routt is known internationally for his pioneering work in pelvic fracture fixation techniques and tireless teaching. He has directly mentored and educated hundreds of orthopedic surgeons and well over 100 practicing orthopaedic traumatologists in the USA and Canada. He has published over 100 original research articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as numerous scientific exhibits, educational videos, visiting professorships, and scientific presentations. In addition to other philanthropic activities, he is an Advisory Board member and annual sponsor of Camp for All near Brenham. He lives in Houston and is married to Dr. Janet Johnson Routt. They have two adult sons, Joseph and Jack.
The Brenham ISD 142nd Anniversary Celebration will introduce the four Distinguished Alumni for 2017. There are no tickets for the event, but seating is $25 per person or $225 for a table of nine. Seating will sell out quickly and reservations can be made by calling Jackie Eckert at the Brenham ISD office at (979) 277-3700, extension 2102, or by stopping by the BISD Administration office at 711 E. Mansfield in Brenham. Checks may be made out to Brenham ISD and mailed to PO Box 1147, Brenham, TX 77834. Deadline to reserve seats is Wednesday, August 23, or whenever seats are sold out.