March 24, 2017
On Tuesday, March 21, members of the Martin Luther community joined to give thanks for the hard work, dedication, and ministries of several individuals at the MLS Annual Gala. Four awards of appreciation were given: the Schott in the Arm Award, named for one of our biggest supporters, Mr. Webster Schott -- awarded to Mr. Stephen Grosch; the Community Service Award --awarded to the Sanchez Family, in appreciation for dedication, integrity and honorable service to the Maspeth Community and for dedication to the ministry of Martin Luther School; and the Servant of Christ Award-- awarded to Mrs. Victoria Graham and Pastor Frederick McElderry, in appreciation for faithful, dedicated and selfless support and service to Christ and His church, and for witness to Christ, in word and deed.
SCHOTT IN THE ARM AWARD
Stephen Grosch (ML '76) considers himself fortunate to have been enrolled in Lutheran schools from early youth into young adulthood. He attended St. John’s Lutheran School in Glendale for eight years. During this time he greatly appreciated the homilies delivered during chapel and deeply admired the Rev. Martin Steege, who was instrumental in the founding of Martin Luther High School in 1960. After graduating Martin Luther just one week prior to our nation’s Bicentennial celebration, Stephen attended Concordia College in Bronxville as a pre-ministerial student. Upon completion of his studies, he received an Associate’s Degree in Theology in 1978 and his B.A. in English Literature two years thereafter.
While hoping to pursue a career as a parish pastor, he took classes throughout the first half of the 1980s at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. During this time, he was assigned a vicarage in the Iowa District West and reassigned sometime later to a congregation in Ontario. While both internships proved to be great learning experiences, it became increasingly clear to Stephen that his talents would be put to better use by following in the footsteps of both his brothers and pursuing a career in the financial industry. He has worked as a full-time bank employee since 1987, most recently for Capital One in Glendale.
Stephen’s passion for church work has never abated. He was grateful for the opportunity to serve the congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bayside for five and a half years until the members decided to disband in 1995. Coincidentally, this is the same church which had been pastored by both Rev. Martin Steege and Rev. Frederick Hinz many years earlier.
He was asked to join the Board of Directors of Martin Luther in 2003 and is currently serving as its secretary. He is also the President of Emmaus Lutheran Church in Ridgewood as well as its treasurer. He and his family have had a long association with Emmaus since the congregation’s earliest days.
Stephen was chosen for this honor for sharing his time, energy, advice, support, friendship and encouragement, and for his many volunteer efforts to foster the health and future growth of Martin Luther School.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
From the first years of their lives Walter and Tammy (ML '78) Sanchez have lived in Maspeth. Tammy (Bekios) attended Martin Luther High School, graduating in 1978. In 1983 Walter headed a company which acquired and operated the Maspeth Bowl and Expressway Tennis Club on 74th Street off Grand Avenue in Maspeth. They sold the company in 1996.
In 1986 Walter acquired the Queens Ledger & Glendale Register Community Weekly Newspapers, which, along a few dozen digital media platforms and several weekly newspapers in Brooklyn & Queens, as a family, they continue to operate today as BQE Media. The print circulation of the weekly newspaper group now tops 150,000 a week and their hyper-local digital news properties reach nearly a million people a month.
While Tammy and Walter both work in the company, their oldest son John, who has just completed his second season as head varsity boys basketball coach at Martin Luther, has joined the news organization as head of media acquisitions and marketing. His success on the basketball court is matched in the company as he led the company in the recent acquisition of the Queens County Bar Association monthly newspaper and Queensborough Magazine, the monthly magazine of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which BQE Media now publishes. John’s marketing work at the company has been recognized by the New York Press Association, as he has won a first place award for “Best Online/Marketing” in a NYPA’s competitive Better Newspaper Contest for 2015 in competing with 600 community Newspapers in New York State. John was also able to fit in a wedding to his new wife Jessica in August of 2016.
Walter is currently the President of the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria. He is the first-vice-chairman of Community Board 5 and is chairman of its Zoning Committee, recently spearheading the down-zoning of Maspeth to protect its one and two-family character. He is a trustee of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn/Queens Diocese, is a member of the St. Stanislaus (Maspeth) Endowment Committee and is a member the executive committee of the Rufus King Manor Museum in Jamaica.
Caitlyn, the middle Sanchez child, is in the digital marketing field, working at Amazon. She volunteers as a basketball coach in Astoria, is a member of the junior advisory committee of the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens and remains active as a math tutor.
Thomas, the youngest Sanchez, is a Biological Science major at Fordham University, where he is also a member of the basketball team. He still calls Martin Luther his favorite gym as St. Stan’s, the elementary school where all three Sanchez children attended, has seemed to have played their home games here for decades.
SERVANT OF CHRIST AWARD
Victoria Graham (ML '83) graduated from Martin Luther in 1983 and Concordia College in 1987 with a B.A. in Biology and completed her graduate work at Iona College in 1994. Vicky was a High School Biology teacher for 21 years before returning to Concordia College to teach in the Biology Department. She was awarded the Teacher of the Year award from St. Barnabas High School in 2003.
She is currently the chairperson of the Biology department and has been teaching at Concordia College for nine years. Over the past number of years, she has been involved in fundraising for Heart Song, a music and art therapy program for children with autism.
Vicky has been married to her college sweetheart, Gene Graham, for 29 years and they have 2 daughters - Kelly (22) and Ashley (19). The family lives in Yonkers where they care for Vicky’s dad, Jerry Ferrara, who is 90 years young.
Vicky has been instrumental in bringing college classes to our students here at MLS!
SERVANT OF CHRIST AWARD
Pastor Frederick McElderry was born in Alaska to an Air Force father and a nurse mother. He moved to Minnesota at the age of five (to find warmer weather?) where he grew up.
A Lutheran all his life, he graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota in 1976 and received his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1980. He married Amy C. Tecklenburg from Syosset, New York and they celebrated their thirty-third anniversary before her untimely passing.
He served his first Call at Grace Lutheran in Greenwood Lake, New York. In 1986, the year the Mets won the World Series, he accepted a Call to St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in West Hempstead, where he has served for 31 years. During those years he has focused on welcoming children (and their families) in church and youth ministry, from the days of Lutherans Cooperating in Metro NY until the present.
St. Andrew’s has expanded and renovated its physical footprint during those years and they continue to be a viable and healthy congregation.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2003, he has worked to expand understanding of and early testing for colorectal cancer in and outside of the congregation.
He has enjoyed doing chapel at Martin Luther School whenever asked and he has been a pastoral presence to staff members at the school whenever possible. He is humbled and honored to be recognized by this great educational ministry of Christ’s church. Soli Deo Gloria and MartyLu forever!