List of Notable Scouting Alumni P-ZListed Alphabetically by Last Name
Rowe, Michael Gregory
Although he’s a college graduate and former opera singer, Mike Rowe has built his reputation by promoting the skilled trades. As host and executive producer of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel, Rowe tried out more than 200 jobs, from driving a sewage truck to demolishing houses in post-Katrina New Orleans. As CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, he is trying to change how America views hard work.
Rowe grew up in Baltimore and became an Eagle Scout in 1979. His Eagle Scout leadership service project, which involved reading to students at the Maryland School for the Blind, helped spark his interest in being a narrator.
Rowe got his start in television as an onscreen pitchman for QVC. He later hosted shows on PBS, TBS, and The History Channel, as well as local stations WJZ in Baltimore and KPIX in San Francisco. A segment he created for KPIX’s “Evening Magazine” eventually grew into “Dirty Jobs.”
With the support of industrial supply giant W.W. Grainger, Rowe launched mikeroweWORKS.com - now profoundlydisconnected.com - on Labor Day 2008. The site focuses on the decline in skilled trades and the crumbling of America’s infrastructure. Features include discussion forums; information about specific trades; and links to schools, jobs, and apprenticeship programs.
A native of San Antonio, Percy Sutton moved to New York City at age 12 in part to escape endemic racism, and he was soon volunteering for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reportedly earning a beating for his trouble.
During World War II, Sutton served as an intelligence officer with the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black fighter group that flew escort for American bombers. He later completed law school and represented hundreds of civil rights workers, as well as such controversial figures as Malcolm X. He also courted controversy himself, returning to his native South as a Freedom Rider in the mid-1960s.
Sutton argued that “you ought always to keep the lines of communication open with those with whom you disagree.”
Among Harlem’s most prominent politicians, Sutton paved the way for African Americans to run successfully for mayor and governor. In 1971, he cofounded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which operated New York City’s first African American radio station.
A 1936 Eagle Scout, Sutton credited Scouting with much of his success. “It gave me access; it helped me dream,” he said.
The acknowledged dean of Western writers, Wallace Stegner influenced generations of authors and helped launch the modern environmental movement. He also demonstrated, in the words of one colleague, “what it means to be a responsible, loving, thoughtful, constituent of the human race.”
Born in Iowa, Stegner grew up in Montana, Utah, and Saskatchewan, Canada. He became an Eagle Scout in Utah, and as a Scout he explored such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon and what is now Zion National Park.
Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University before moving to Stanford University. There he established a creative writing program in which students included Edward Abbey, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. He also served on the board of the Sierra Club and was a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall during the 1960s.
Stegner earned many awards for his writing, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972 (for Angle of Repose) and the National Book Award in 1977 (for The Spectator Bird). However, his nonfiction work may have had the greater impact on society. Most notably, his “Wilderness Letter” was used in the successful drive to create the National Wildlife Preservation System in 1964.
For most Scouts, the Wilderness Survival merit badge offers the chance to learn valuable skills in an outdoor setting. For Creek Stewart, it was the first step toward a career as a survival instructor, author, and host of The Weather Channel’s hit show Fat Guys in the Woods, which aired in 2014 and 2015. It’s no wonder he still carries the badge in his wallet.
On each episode of his show, Stewart took several stuck-in-a-rut men into the wilderness. Their objective was to survive the experience but more importantly to grow as individuals and overcome the challenges they face when they’re not in the woods.
Stewart launched his survival business while attending Butler University in Indianapolis. He began by writing a 90-page survival handbook that, in true Boy Scout fashion, he advertised in the pages of Boys’ Life magazine.
Today, Stewart runs Willow Haven Outdoor Survival School in Indiana and frequently appears as a survival expert on local and national television shows, often teaching novel survival uses for everyday items like soda cans and cell phones. He has also written several survival books, including Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.
Paul Theroux is novelist who received his Eagle Scout in the 1950’s.
Theroux was born in 1941 in Medford, Massachusetts. After college, he joined the Peace Corp. and took off for Malawi. But he was actually thrown out of the Peace Corp. for helping an unpopular politician escape to Uganda.
So, he moved to Uganda and then to Singapore...before ending up in England. All along the way he taught at universities.
His first major success as a writer was “The Great Railway Bazaar.” It was based on his travels from Great Britain to Japan and back again.
Many of his books have been made into movies such as Half Moon Street in 1986 and The Mosquito Coast in 1986.
Storm chaser Reed Timmer has captured more than 500 tornadoes on video—some from the inside. He’s no fool, however, nor is he some suicidal thrill-seeker. Instead, he chases storms to learn more about them and better protect people from their awesome power.
Timmer travels with the best protection this side of the U.S. Army: a series of three custom vehicles he calls the Dominators. The latest, Dominator 3, began life as a Ford F-350 crew-cab pickup but features a 16-gauge body strengthened with a polyethylene Kevlar composite, thick Lexan windows, and gullwing doors to repel hail. When storms approach, special hydraulic systems lower the vehicle to the ground to prevent wind from getting underneath and drive spikes 8 inches into the ground to secure it.
In other words, the vehicle is a 9,500-pound, 385-horsepower embodiment of the Scout motto, “Be prepared.”
A trained meteorologist and passionate advocate of severe-weather preparedness, Timmer hosted the on-demand series Storm Chasers and has appeared on such programs as The Weather Channel’s Tornado Chasers, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show. In 2015, he completed his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma while working as a storm chaser for AccuWeather and Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate, KFOR.
Tut, Buey Ray
Buey Ray Tut left what is now South Sudan at age 8, part of a wave of refugees escaping civil unrest. He never forgot his homeland, however, or the difficult chores he had as a child, like fetching water from a river 3 or 4 miles from his village.
In 2011, the same year he became a U.S. citizen, the Omaha resident cofounded the nonprofit organization Aqua-Africa with two other South Sudanese expatriates. Within three years, Aqua-Africa had drilled 13 wells, serving a total of 6,500 people. And that’s just the beginning. Aqua-Africa’s five-year goal is to provide 200,000 people with clean water.
But Aqua-Africa does more than drill wells. It also teaches resource management and micro-democracy by creating a water committee, a local board that manages each new well, decides what to charge for the water, and ensures that everyone has equal access to it. To form a water committee, Aqua-Africa teaches villagers how democracy works, then runs elections—complete with secret ballots, term limits, and official announcements of the results.
Don’t be surprised if that sounds familiar. “We’re basically using the patrol method,” Tut says. “My Scouting experience is intertwined with what I do now. Everything I’ve done there, I’ve applied now in Aqua-Africa.”
In 1945, shortly after leaving the U.S. Army, 26-year-old Sam Walton took over a Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. By 1962, he and his brother Bud owned a chain of 16 variety stores in three states and had pioneered techniques in logistics, volume purchasing, and merchandising. That year, the brothers opened their first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, launching an empire that would eventually become the world’s largest retailer and private employer.
Walton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 in recognition of his pioneering work in retailing. In 1998, Time magazine named him to its list of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people.
But Walton’s first accolades came much earlier in life. In 1932, he saved a boy named Donald Peterson from drowning in Missouri’s Salt River, and two years later he became his home state’s youngest Eagle Scout to that time.
Today, Walton’s influence lives on through the Walton Family Foundation, which donated more than $325 million to charity in 2013. And thousands of students on the University of Arkansas campus study at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, ranked among the nation’s top 25 undergraduate and top 50 graduate business schools by the Wall Street Journal.
Young, Roy David
If not for a bureaucratic misunderstanding, Roy Young, a member of Troop 35 in St. Paul, Minnesota, might have been known forever as America’s first Eagle Scout. In fact, that’s just what the St. Paul Pioneer Press called him in a March 10, 1912 headline: “One St. Paul Scout Earns 23 Merit Badges and Will Be Honored as First ‘Eagle Scout.’”
But that was not to be. Those 23 badges would have cost Young 25 cents each (about $6 in today’s money), and he didn’t have the cash. Only later did his local Scout council realize that they could have submitted his paperwork anyway, but by then Arthur Eldred of Rockville Centre, New York., and Earl Marx of Jacksonville, Florida, had beaten him to the punch.
Despite his disappointment, Young apparently carried no grudges against the BSA. After serving stateside during World War I—poor eyesight kept him out of combat—he served as a professional Scouter for five years.
Young later worked as a youth pastor, but he found his true calling behind a camera. For two decades, he traveled the country with a circuit camera, taking panoramic photos of high-school classes, church conventions, and other large groups.