Newest Inductees to The Wall of Distinction: Two Servant Leaders

The two newest inductees to the Malvern Prep Wall of Distinction share their personal stories, which have driven them to lead exemplary lives committed to servant leadership and social impact.
Newest Inductees to The Wall of Distinction: Two Servant Leaders

On Wednesday, September 20th, Malvern Preparatory School had a ceremony to induct two new members into the James H. Stewart IV Wall of Distinction. This award highlights individuals connected to the Malvern community who have exemplified Augustinian values throughout their lives and careers. The inductees, Captain Jason Lautar ‘98 and Mr. William “Tip” O’Neill Jr. ‘63, were chosen by the Wall of Distinction Committee. 


Mr. Ronald Algeo was one of the founding members of this committee four years ago. He explained how the Wall of Distinction emerged from the idea of the St. Augustine Center for Social Impact (CSI) being more than just a building. They wanted the building to hold the stories of servant leaders connected to Malvern as examples for the community. 


“Whether they were board members or parents or past parents or friends, [it was for] whoever had been making a major social impact in the world. Mr. Jim Stewart was on that committee. In the year of the design phase he passed away, which is why we decided to put him on it and also name it after him,” Mr. Algeo explained. 


The process of choosing inductees is long, yet deliberate, often lasting months. Mr. Algeo explained how the Wall of Distinction Committee is chosen very carefully in order to ensure that there is a broad range of institutional knowledge across its members. 


“We go through all kinds of names [from] our history. We [look at] alums and members of our community that have been making a social impact. Sometimes the impact is on Malvern’s campus; sometimes it’s an alum of Malvern who is making an impact out in the world,” Mr. Algeo said.


Captain Jason Lautar


Captain Lautar came to Malvern in ninth grade. He explains how a huge part of the reason the Lautar twins enrolled was to wrestle, a sport they would become known for at Malvern.


“Wrestling brought us to Malvern Prep. At the time, Malvern’s coach, Mr. Kennett, recruited Nathan and me to come to Malvern and wrestle,” Captain Lautar said. 


The Lautars made history as soon as they arrived, with the team achieving numerous accomplishments while the brothers were in ninth grade. 


“We won the Inter-Ac for the very first time ever in [Malvern Prep’s] history in our freshman year. Additionally, we beat Haverford School for the first time ever in [Malvern Prep’s] history our freshman year,” Captain Lautar said.


Captain Lautar knew that wrestling alongside his twin brother was a unique experience. They were able to learn a lot from each other and through their friendships with other wrestlers. He explains how these four years of wrestling at Malvern bonded them and encouraged his brother to start coaching at his alma mater.


“I always had a partner–that’s for sure–but I would tell you [that] the friends that we met while wrestling throughout our four years were something special. We still talk to them and have that relationship. I believe that is one reason why I think Nathan went back and started coaching- he wanted to give back to the school,” Captain Lautar said. 


Looking back, Captain Lautar says that he has made friends for life out of the experiences while at Malvern. Captain Lautar is also very grateful for all the support from his coaches and teachers at Malvern. Coach Dave Morgan was Captain Lautar’s coach throughout his four years. Coach Morgan always supported him on and off the mat, leading the team to major successes and making history. 


“He was phenomenal. He kept the team together–his work ethic and his drive and his passion for wrestling was remarkable. On the mat and outside of the mat, [he took] care of the kids,” Captain Lautar explained.


The team went on to beat Haverford School for the first time at Haverford during his senior year.


Furthermore, during the twins’ senior year at Malvern, their stepfather had been working a second job to make sure that they could go to Malvern. Captain Lautar explained how his stepfather got very sick and was in a coma for a while. During that period, they found out that an anonymous donor had paid off their tuition allowing them to stay at Malvern for the rest of high school. 


“I am forever grateful I know my brother is the same. I don’t know if I would have ever attended the Naval Academy, met my wife, or even commanded a Navy warship if it wasn’t for that donation. You know you look back and those series of events changed my life. It would be really hard to find words, to even put it into words, because I am so grateful for what they did for us,” Captain Lautar said.


The donation meant that Captain Lautar was able to complete his junior year and senior year, and he was able to focus on what his next steps were coming out of high school. Captain Lautar went on two recruiting trips for wrestling to the United States Naval Academy, so he decided to put in an application at the last minute. Even with a senator’s nomination, he didn’t get in. Captain Lautar decided he would attend the University of Tampa for pre-med and an army ROTC scholarship. However, that changed when a call came late in his senior year from the US Naval Academy. 

“They increased the class size by 30 people. When they did that, I was one of those 30 people. They told my mom that I needed to make a decision by three o’clock or 15:00 the next day and let them know if I accepted the offer to attend the Naval Academy. I had already been accepted at the University of Tampa. I think, for me, it was a sign. I would tell you that they opened the class size and it was something that I just couldn’t say no to. I had to at least [give] it an opportunity, a shot. I haven’t looked back since,” Captain Lautar explained.


Captain Lautar went on to serve in many locations around the world, including commanding the USS Michael Murphy in the Middle East. Captain Lautar explained how this was a very special mission for him, as he wasn’t sure that he would be able to do anything like this in his career. He was recently selected for Major Command. After this mission, he was able to reflect a lot about what it means to be a leader and have a purpose in the world. 


“When you’re in command, every commanding officer has a command philosophy. I brought it up in my speech during the ceremony; it’s the phrase ‘one calling, one mission, one destiny.’ It was the phrase that was said at my grandfather’s funeral several years ago by the priest and it really hit home for me on the calling. We all have a calling in life. I had a calling to serve our great country.”


Captain Lautar’s decorated career speaks for itself. His experiences and service to the United States make him an excellent inductee into the Malvern Prep Wall of Distinction. 


“I would tell you I’ve never looked back,” Captain Lautar remarked. “Attending the Naval Academy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The decision to say yes that day, trust in God, and put my faith in him that I was making the right decision to go to the Naval Academy. The opportunities that I’ve had throughout my 27-year career, I don’t regret at all.” 


Mr. William “Tip” O’Neill Jr.


Mr. William “Tip” O’Neill Jr. was a Malvern class of ‘63 graduate. While at Malvern, Mr. O’Neill participated in four sports including football, baseball, basketball, and wrestling. He was also a part of the annual musical production.


“I was a benchwarmer for all four sports, but I learned a lot,” Mr. O’Neill said. 


Mr. O’Neill also developed an interest in rowing after his Malvern years due to his son’s interest in the sport. The Malvern Prep rowing program had not yet been established while Mr. O’Neill was attending. 


“I tried rowing at Penn but had to drop out because of poor grades. My continuing interest in rowing was through my son Bill ’00 who rowed for 4 years at both Malvern and Cornell. Craig Hoffman started as Malvern’s crew coach in Bill’s sophomore year. He went on to build the most successful sports program in Malvern’s history, consistently winning for about 20 years both nationally and internationally. He is an inspirational leader,” Mr. O’Neill said.


After graduating from Malvern, Mr. O’Neill spent some time doing ROTC. He explained how this was a huge learning experience. Mr. O’Neill did a ‘2, 3 and 2” program. However, after two years, he was asked to leave the Wharton School at Penn due to poor academic performance. He subsequently volunteered for the U.S. Army, and in his basic training, he learned about diversity and equity. He also learned how to be a servant leader, which he said was learned over time, not taught. After these three years, he was offered an opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School and later taught there after graduation. After his time with Officer Candidate School, Mr. O’Neill took up another opportunity to serve.


“After a while, I volunteered for Vietnam. After further training, I deployed with an Artillery Battalion to the Central Highlands. My three years in the U.S. Army were an irreplaceable experience. On my return to Penn, I was a much better student and finished in 2 years,” Mr. O’Neill said.


Mr. O’Neill was first exposed to the impact and importance of community service when he was in the Army. When he was in Vietnam, in the Central Highlands, he served as a volunteer assisting the local Montagnard Tribe of indigenous people. From then on, he has incorporated servant leadership into many of his business endeavors.


Mr. O’Neill has had a very successful business career, including 40 years at IRM (International Raw Materials). During his time there, he has made an incredible impact in the fertilizer industry. Mr. O’Neill felt that his experiences at Malvern and also with the Army were useful for his career, as he learned what it meant to be a “servant leader.”


“I have been blessed with a career that has allowed me to see the impact of my work. Classroom instruction at Malvern in the ‘60s focused on individual effort. It was on the fields, or courts, that we learned the critical lessons about how to work as a team,” Mr. O’Neill said.


Today, Mr. O’Neill has served on multiple school boards and as a trustee for the Bethesda Project for 10 years. He served as Chair of the Board for Joseph’s House of Camden (JHOC) for the first three years that the organization existed and then as a trustee for JHOC for seven years. Both the Bethesda Project and JHOC are organizations dedicated to fighting homelessness and being family to those without. Mr. O’Neill was also a founding trustee of the Paoli Battlefield Fund, and he currently serves as treasurer on the board of the Conshohocken Rowing Center (CRC). 


“I am sort of an entrepreneur and like to get involved in projects like the CRC, which is a public-private partnership with Malvern’s archrival Haverford School and the Borough of Conshohocken. There are three bays at the boathouse, one for each school and the community program run by the governing non-profit, the CRC. This year we were a US Rowing training and selection camp for the World Championships. Next year we hope to be the same for the Olympics,” explained Mr. O’Neill.


Mr. O’Neill is an excellent inductee to the James H. Stewart IV Wall of Distinction, and he will be viewed as a great role model for the Malvern community on what it means to be a servant leader dedicated to serving others.


“From a relatively early age, I have always pursued two careers: business and non-profit service. They have always complimented each other with shared lessons learned on each path. Be true to your moral compass that was given to you by your parents and teachers. Focus on a career that you find rewarding and impactful. If you instead follow the money path it will lead you down a rat hole,” Mr. O’Neill said. 


The Wall of Distinction is a critical part of the CSI, helping to bring to life for students the importance of making an impact while at Malvern Prep and in the wider world.


“You need to hear stories. You need to see people that are dedicated to social impact. We felt that it was really important to have living, breathing examples and stories that help bring the title ‘Center for Social Impact’ to life,” Mr. Algeo said.

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