The Summit Country Day School presented the Ne Ultra Award on Sunday, Sept. 15 to Mary and Joe Brinkmeyer, a Hyde Park couple whose relationship with the school spans six decades.
Mary (Foss) Brinkmeyer, a 1967 graduate of The Summit, and her husband were presented the award in The Summit’s picturesque 19th Century St. Cecilia Hall. The Ne Ultra, which means “none higher” in Latin, is given to individuals who make extraordinary contributions to the future progress of The Summit.
“The Brinkmeyers have made an indelible mark on the history of The Summit over the past 67 years since Mary first started school here as a 3-year-old,” said Rich Wilson, Head of School. “Mary and Joe have been deeply committed to The Summit, as parents and grandparents, faculty, trustees and generous benefactors. Their sustained influence contributed to The Summit being a place of high ideals where we strive to make the world a better place.”
Mary was a teacher at The Summit, a leader in alumni and parent groups and the Assistant Head of School who started The Summit’s signature Character Education Program. Joe was a coach and football announcer. Both Mary and Joe served as trustees, at different times, and gave generously to the school’s endowment and capital projects.
The couple also gave their children, Lauren and Joseph, the advantage of a Summit education and have two grandchildren currently attending – making theirs a four-generation family that began with Mary’s mother, Amelia (Hamberg) Foss, a 1924 graduate.
After graduating from The Summit in 1967, Mary went to Trinity Washington University in D.C. while Joe studied marketing at the University of Cincinnati. Although they met in high school, they married after college and went on to receive master’s degrees at Xavier University, his in business administration, hers in Montessori education. Mary joined The Summit faculty in 1974 as a Montessori teacher in a classroom for 3-year-olds. Taking a break in 1978 to focus on their children, Mary joined the Alumni Board and the Summit Parents Association. She served on the school’s independent Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1992. In 1992, she was appointed Assistant Head of School, a role she held for 17 years until her retirement in 2009.
One of her greatest achievements was development of The Summit’s signature Character Education Program. Inspired by the research of Dr. Tom Lickona, she developed a unique program that continues to impact Summit students today. She was honored with the McKenzie-Sargent Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. She also chaired the school’s Centennial celebration in 1990, headed a number of building projects and initiated The Summit’s mentor program for new employees.
Joe served on the Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2017. When their children were in Middle School, Joe coached son Joseph in soccer and daughter Lauren in softball. He was known for organizing a huge winter softball camp. When Joseph played football in high school, Joe was the announcer for the games.
The Brinkmeyers have been very generous benefactors:
- In 1989, they established the Amelia (Hamberg) Foss ’24 Scholarship in memory of Mary’s mother. Nine students to date have been able to attend the Upper School thanks to the Brinkmeyers.
- During the Cornerstone Campaign, they funded refurbishment of the Bishop’s Parlor in the main building.
- In 2003, they established the Brinkmeyer Fund for House and Grounds.
- In 2009, the Mary (Foss) Brinkmeyer ’67 Scholarship was established by family and friends to honor Mary’s service. Seven students have received scholarships so far.
- Longtime members of the Cornerstone Heritage Society, the couple has included The Summit in their estate plan.
The Brinkmeyers also have supported other Greater Cincinnati organizations including the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the YWCA, Catholic Charities and many others.