Ralph R. Staven '47

2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service

The man formerly known as “Mr. Waukesha” is now known for his commitment to community service. Ralph Staven '47 was a naval aviator in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He served three and a half years as captain and was in 82 combat missions, including in the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan.  Staven received two Distinguished Flying Cross awards, seven Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation.

After the war, Staven studied business administration, economics and German at Carroll. He graduated in 1947 and went on to lead a successful banking career with First Financial Corporation of Wisconsin and its predecessors serving as Chairman and CEO. When First Financial Corporation merged with Associated Banc-Corp. of Green Bay, Wis. in 1997, Staven served as a director until his retirement in 2000.

Staven was dedicated to his business, but also to the Waukesha community.  From 1954-58 he was a city councilman. He received the “Man of the Year” award in 1963 from the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He chaired the United Way Drive of 1979, and was a member of the Waukesha Rotary Club for 40 years where he also served as president of the club. Other important roles include director of the Chamber of Commerce, director of the Boy Scout Council, chairman of the City Cancer Drive, director of the YMCA Board, commander of Post #8 American Legion, Waukesha County School Committee member and Past Chairman of the Wisconsin League of Financial Institutions where he received an Outstanding Service Award in 1976.  

A number of prestigious awards have been awarded in Staven’s name including election to Who’s Who in America’s Colleges and Universities, receiving the Silver Beaver Award from the District Boy Scout Council in 1959, and being named Unico’s Man of the Year. Staven belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was an avid golfer at Merrill Hills Country Club before his move from Waukesha.  

Carroll was also a meaningful part of Staven’s civic service. He was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1980-1989, was chairman of the Alumni Drive and a Fellow Club member of the Class of 1947. As a student at Carroll, Ralph was active in athletics, receiving varsity letters in football and track. He was named honorary football captain by his teammates. Staven was also an active member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. 

Ralph and his wife Joan have four children, Mark, Gary, David and Mary Beth Canham, and three grandchildren. Joan died in 2010 and Ralph in 2011.

Give Back and Get involved

Panoramic View of campus