2008 Alumnus of the Year: Leroy Frank Van Dyke
LEROY FRANK VAN DYKE is theatrically billed as "The World's Most Famous Auctioneer," and was catapulted into country music recording fame in 1956 by his composition, "Auctioneer," which sold an estimated three million records.
In his fifty-years-plus professional career, Van Dyke has recorded some 500 songs, dozens of them making the charts. His record, "Walk On By" (1961), was named by Billboard Magazine in 1994 as the biggest country single of all time. The music industry named Van Dyke the Country Music Entertainer of the Decade in the 1960s. He had the lead role in the 1967 movie "What I Bid," and his own syndicated television show.
Born on a farm near Mora in Pettis County, Missouri, he attended one-room rural elementary schools, completed high school at Smith-Cotton in Sedalia, then earned a B.S. in Agriculture degree from MU, with majors in Animal Husbandry and Agricultural Journalism. The
"EVEN WITH HIS CAREER SUCCESSES, LEROY IS DOWN-TO-EARTH AS HE WAS AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS LIFE'S JOURNEY. HE EPITOMIZES WHAT A PERFECT ALUMNUS SHOULD BE. I CAN THINK OF NO BETTER PERSON TO RECEIVE THE ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR AWARD."
— A.E. McQuinn, chairman and CEO, Quinstar Investment Partners of Edina, Minn.
The music industry named Van Dyke the Country Music Entertainer of the Decade in the 1960s. He had the lead role in the 1967 movie "What I Bid," and his own syndicated television show. He is a member of the North American Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame.
He was an original co-host, with Bill Mack, of the Southern Baptist Radio/TV Commission-produced "Country Crossroads" radio show, and was later joined by a third co-host, Jerry Clower. This became the most widely syndicated radio show in country music history, with Leroy co-hosting for ten years.