The Distinguished Alumnus/a Award is presented annually to a graduate whose life exemplifies the virtues that St. Petersburg Catholic High School strives to instill in each and every student; authenticity, compassion, fortitude, humility & wisdom. St. Petersburg Catholic High School established the award to honor individuals who demonstrate a commitment to faith, family, tradition, and excellence; who embody ethical leadership and compassionate service; who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their chosen professions; and who have made significant contributions to society as volunteers, mentors, or benefactors.
Each year, we announce our Distinguished Alumnus/a at the Senior-Alumni Mass & Breakfast in May. Our Distinguished Alumnus/a is invited to address the graduating class at our Commencement Ceremony.
2023 Distinguished Alumnus Marty Lyons
Distinguished Alumni Marty Lyons ’75 provided inspiration and wisdom to the 2023 graduating class. Mr. Lyons’ football experience began at St. Petersburg Catholic High School and matured under the guidance of the late Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama, where he was recognized as an All-American in 1978. His peers elected him captain of the NCAA Division 1 National Champion football team that same year. His athletic skill propelled him to be a first-round draft pick in the 1979 National Football League draft. Mr. Lyons joined the 2011 class of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Mr. Lyons’ professional football career blossomed with the New York Jets spanned twelve years, during which time he played both defensive tackle and defensive end. Experience and leadership enabled him to serve as one of the defensive team captains in 1988.
In 1982, Mr. Lyons realized that there was more to life than football. Mr. Lyons said, “In March 1982, three events altered my life. In the period of one week, my father, Leo, passed away suddenly; Keith, a little boy to whom I was a Big Brother, passed away from leukemia; and my first son, Rocky, was born. Imagine being on top of the world, and in the period of seven days, you are forced to see the frailty, unfairness, and the wonder of life. I decided to use my name and my God-given talent to make a difference in the lives of terminally ill children.” This seven-day period led to the formation of The Marty Lyons Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting special wishes to children diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
We are thrilled and very blessed to have such a selfless individual as the St. Petersburg Catholic High School 2023 Distinguished Alumni. Our students and wider Baron community have a fantastic example in Marty Lyons!
2022 Distinguished Alumna Linda Youth
Linda Dowling Youth attended St. Jude’s Catholic School for eight years and graduated with the first class to attend Notre Dame Academy for four years. After graduating from college she married. She and family lived on Long Island, NY for 34 years. After her late husband passed and when her children were grown, Linda joined the Sisters of Mercy Volunteer Corps. In 2010 she began her Mercy Volunteer Corps year in Savannah, GA. In 2011 she became a staff member at St. Mary’s Community Center where she had volunteered. She currently serves there.
According to this article in the Savannah Business Journal: "The corps was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1978 to place and support volunteers in poor or marginalized areas of the U.S. and South America for one year of service. Youth was sent to Savannah to help at St. Joseph’s/Candler’s St. Mary’s Community Center and lived simply with other Mercy volunteers. She returned to Long Island, NY, after her yearlong service ended. But after about three months, she was ready to come back and serve as a full-time co-worker." You can read more about Linda's service with the Sisters of Mercy Volunteer Corps in the article linked above.
Such a selfless individual certainly fits the bill for the St. Petersburg Catholic High School 2022 Distinguished Alumna. Our students, and wider Baron community are blessed to have such an example of humility to look towards.
2021 Distinguished Alumnus, Patrick Walsh '71
2020 Distinguished Alumni Award
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award has been deferred until the 2020-2021 school year.
2019 Distinguished Alumnus, Paul Reilly '72
Paul Reilly is a graduate of Bishop Barry High School’s class of 1972. After high school Reilly went on to pursue his studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and MBA. In 2005, he was the recipient of Notre Dame’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Reilly currently serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Raymond James Financial. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Mr. Reilly is a loving husband and father of two St. Pete Catholic alumni as well as a devout Catholic and parishioner at St. Paul Catholic Church in St. Petersburg. In January of 2019, the school renamed one of its newly renovated classroom buildings to Reilly Family Bishop Barry Hall, in honor of a leadership gift from Reilly and his wife, Rose. The renovation of the original buildings, built in 1957, included twenty classrooms, eight departmental offices, new bathrooms, a new student courtyard, and a new student chapel. The Reilly family’s generosity displays a true commitment to Catholic education and makes it possible for St. Petersburg Catholic High School to uphold its mission of forming young men and women in spirit, mind, and body for future leadership and compassionate service.
2018 Distinguished Alumna, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich '54
Judge Kovachevich is a 1954 alumna of St. Paul’s High School. Judge Kovachevich graduated valedictorian from St. Paul’s High School and St. Petersburg Junior College. She then went on to major in finance at the University of Miami, where she graduated magna cum laude with a BBA degree. Judge Kovachevich received her juris doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. She finished second in her class and was the only female in her graduating class. In 1972, Judge Kovachevich became the first female judge elected to serve as a Circuit Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas and Pasco Counties, Florida. She served in various judicial divisions over nine years, including a special assignment to the District Court of Appeal. In January 1982, President Ronald Reagan nominated her to an open district court vacancy for the Middle District of Florida. After the Senate confirmed her nomination, she received her judicial commission on March 9, 1982, and was sworn in on March 12, 1982. Judge Kovachevich has served as a U.S. District Judge for over 35 years and is the longest serving district judge still in active service for the Middle District of Florida. “We are honored to have Judge Kovachevich as our first Distinguished Alumna, as we begin this new tradition at St. Pete Catholic,” Principal Ross Bubolz said. “Judge Kovachevich, in her commitment to faith and passion for service, personifies our alumni community and the virtues we hope to instill in all of our students.”