By Dave Rogers

For The Record

Don’t expect the recent retirement of Walter Riedel as President and CEO of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation to lead to a big change in the management.

Riedel’s departure, effective Feb. 28, came after more than 40 years of service to the organization.

But his successor as CEO, Clyde V. “Tad” McKee III is no stranger to the Foundation, having worked for it since 1991.

Most recently, he had been vice president and chief financial officer/treasurer.

While Riedel began his time with the Stark Foundation after taking a job as Nelda C. Stark’s private accountant in 1977, McKee’s father, Clyde, worked for H.J. Lutcher Stark for 40 years, from 1956 to 1996, and was instrumental in the legal work that resulted in the creation of the Stark Foundation in 1961, according to a news release issued Monday by the Stark Foundation.

Riedel graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and began his accounting career at the former First National Bank in Orange in 1972. He transferred for a short period to a FNB branch in the Houston area before returning to Orange in 1977.

The foundation board of directors named Riedel president and CEO in 1999, after the death of Nelda Stark on Dec. 13, 1999.

Over the past 17 years, Riedel guided the Stark Foundation through an expansion in operation and programming that included the construction of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, converting the foundation from a private grant making foundation to a private operating foundation and the addition of a museum annex building for education and archival operations.

“Walter has really shaped the foundation into what it is today. I think he’s largely known for being such a positive force in the community,” Michael Shahan, longtime president of Lamar State College-Orange, said.

“We’ve worked together on the whole concept of redeveloping the downtown area. The foundation has helped us [LSC-O] on several different occasions when we had some projects and Stark scholarships have been extremely valuable to our students.”

At a surprise retirement reception in his honor, Riedel expressed gratitude to foundation employees and volunteers for their work and support over the years, according to the foundation’s release. He acknowledged them as the true reason for the positive impact of the Stark Foundation in the community and region.

Riedel’s successor, Tad McKee, announced the first-floor space of the new museum annex building will be named “The Walter G. Riedel III Education Center.”

McKee, the son of Mary Louise Bevil and Clyde V. McKee, Jr., was born and raised in Orange, where he graduated from Stark High School. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and an MBA from Baylor University.

After passing his CPA exam, he worked at Alford Meroney CPAs in San Antonio before he left for an 11-year tenure with the El Paso Natural Gas Company. In 1991, McKee returned to Orange.

McKee is president elect of the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce, a long-time board member of the Malloy Foundation, a member of the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation — the academic arm of the state’s University Scholastic League — and a long-time member of the Orange Lions Club.

Jennifer Staton, the foundation’s controller, has been promoted to succeed Tad McKee in the position of VP-CFO/Treasurer. She is an Orange native who graduated with honors from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School and Texas A&M University, where she earned accounting and finance degrees.

Staton has worked as a CPA for more than 16 years in public accounting, both for and with various industries in the Southeast Texas region. She has been employed with the Stark Foundation since 2011.

At the recent Annual Meeting of the Stark Foundation’s Board of Directors, Staton was named to the board of directors, of which McKee is already a member. Riedel, who will continue to serve as a foundation board member, was named as chairman of the board of directors following the end of the term of the prior chairman, Larry David.