Mike grew up in Lathrop where a country upbringing instilled in him a hard work ethic. In 1975, Mike graduated from Lathrop High School. As an adult, Mike moved to KC where he began a career selling propane gas. Mike's life began to be revolutionized in the early 1990's and in 1996, his big break came. He and a few other entrepreneurs founded Inergy, a Kansas City based propane Gas Company. The company boomed and Inergy began to soar, Mike soared up the corporate ladder. He and his family were realizing the "American Dream". Mike served as one of the executive officers and he and his partners continued to expand Inergy L.P. (NRGY), which achieved a national presence and went public in 2001.
In 2003 however, God intervened and Mike's life changed as he followed a different path for his future. Through a missionary friend Mike, he learned about the plight of those less fortunate in other countries. Mike and his family built their first building in Thailand for $750, which became an orphanage, the first of many for the C3 Missions.
Founded in 2003, C3 Missions International is a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for orphaned and abandoned children around the world. C3 works with local indigenous partners to create orphan homes in a "village" model that provides holistic care and support. By 2006, C3 had eight homes in three countries and just over 500 children in care. Today (or at least by Dec. 2008), C3 has 54 homes and helps care for more than 2,200 children, with another 52 homes under construction and 110 in process, spanning 14 nations in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.
C3 Missions International is an organization that is positively transforming the lives of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children world-wide. I believe that Mike's story chronicles the best attributes of a Lathrop High Alumni and a person from Lathrop, Missouri. "Making it" in the business world and then using those hard-earned resources to help others.
Along with his older sister Lily and his younger brother Bill, the Gall children grew up on a farm near Turney. They were blessed with wonderful parents who stressed the importance of education. Bob married Harriet Gibson in 1950 and they had 3 sons; Joseph, Jeffrey, and James. Bob graduated from Lathrop High School in 1943. A particular history teacher and football coach at Lathrop, in the early 1940s - Bud Robertson, had a profound impact on his life. From Coach Robertson, he and his brother learned the importance of hard work, discipline, character, and fair play, along with a love of history that was obvious by the substantial personal library he collected and shared with his sons, one of which - Jeff - is a history professor. Bob was an excellent student and a stellar athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. Following high school, Bob enlisted in the US Army, during WWII, where he was a radio operator and attained the rank of sergeant. He served from 1943 to 1946 and then went on to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia. Bob was concerned when arriving at Mizzou that he might not be able to compete academically with students from larger towns and city schools. Well, the fact is that he found that the teachers and coaches at Lathrop High had indeed prepared him well. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in Business Administration.
Bob made a significant mark on the sport and business of bowling in the Kansas City area and Midwest region. He opened Strike n' Spare Bowl in Independence, Missouri in 1957. It began as 16 lanes and grew to 32 lanes. By the time he sold the business in 1984, it was the most successful bowling center in Kansas City. Over the years he also owned and operated Blue Springs Bowl and Strike Market Bowl (Lee's Summit). These bowling centers were unique. They were bright, immaculate and unique in they did not serve alcohol. These businesses took bowling out of city "alleys" and introduced the sport to entire new segments of the population - families, youth, and churches. Riding the wave of the post WWII move of Americans to the suburbs, these businesses were extremely successful and were a model for other bowling proprietors. By the 1980s, Strike n' Spare had the biggest youth bowling program in the state of Missouri, with large youth leagues every day after school and multiple leagues on Saturdays.
Bob was recognized for his leadership in the bowling business by being elected president of the Kansas City Bowling Proprietors' Association (1963, 1964, and 1984) and in 1968 he was elected to the Kansas City Bowling Hall of Fame. He not only loved bowling but loved all sports and became the largest sponsor of youth sports in Independence. Through his business he sponsored and bought equipment for dozens of youth baseball and football teams in the Queen City Athletic Association, the Independence Jaycees' Football Assoc. and the Kiwanis Baseball League. He also sponsored women's' softball teams and men's basketball teams.
Along with sports, Bob discovered the beauty of four-part harmony singing in the shower with teammates in the Lathrop High School locker room. He went on to sing in quartets in college. Once settled in Kansas City, he joined the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. He sang in quartets that competed in international competitions. His wife Harriett was also active in music, being a national leader of the Sweet Adelines. Bob sang bass in the Merry Mugs, a quartet that included well-known K.C. weatherman Dan Henry. They became known as one of the greatest comedy quartets in the history of the barbershop quartet society. Through the 1960s and 1970s the Merry Mugs traveled tens of thousands of miles and entertained audiences in shows across the US and Canada. They were chosen twice to sing on USO tours, the first quartet chosen to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to sing for US naval personnel, and in 1968 they went on an extensive USO tour of the Far East, singing in military hospitals and entertaining troops wounded in the Vietnam War. Besides singing in quartets, Bob also rose to leadership in the barbershop quartet society. He was president of the Kansas City chapter, president of the Central States District and in 1969 was elected International President of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America - which at the time was the largest male singing society in the world with over 40,000 members.
Bob was a longtime member of the Independence Rotary Club, in the late 1980s he went on a mission trip to Africa and helped build a church in Kenya, and the last ten years of his life, Bob restored his boyhood home north of Lathrop and spent many happy hours there. He and his wife Harriett were active in the Turney Historical Society and were leaders in the effort there to restore the town's railroad depot.
While at Lathrop, Dede was a 4 year basketball letter winner, ALL-Conference 1975, All-Conference 1976, Scored over 1,000 points in 3 years, with no 3 point baskets. 4 year track letter winner, 1976 member of Girl's Track team that won every dual, invitational, conference, and district meet. Individually won at both Conference and District 100 yd hurdles, 400 meters run, 800 yd run, Shot Put (Placed 3rd at the 1976 State Meet). Softball Throw (National Record in 1975 211"3", took 4th place at State Meet in 1976), Discus (qualifying for the first ever Missouri High School State Girl's Track Meet in 1975 and 7th in 1976), National Track and Field Athlete of the Year 1975 & 1976. Currently holds records for Shot Put 39'.
Dede Miller graduated from Lathrop High School in 1976 with a full ride and an academic scholarship to Maryville - NWMSU. She had been previously invited to attend the tryouts for the first women's Olympic Basketball team for the 1976 games. After two years in college, she quit after being invited and making the 1978 Olympic Development team. This team then competed for 16 spots for the 1980 Olympic Qualification Games that were held in Congo, Africa. The team didn't go that year after President Carter declared we would not attend due to USSR's involvement in Afghanistan. The team went on a 3 month tour playing scrimmages to show people the game. The team played in Lathrop. The team suspended training and its members returned to their regular lives.
Dede received a full ride scholarship to Texas Women's University (a power house for women's athletics) in softball to play second base. After playing for one year, she relocated to Lake Placid, NY to train full time on the Olympic Development Team of 1981, played for World Championship Team of 1982, 1984, Olympic Handball Team 1984, Los Angeles Olympic Games 4th place. From 1988 to, 1992 she served as a member of the Unites States Olympic Committee, as an Athletic Representative to the committee as an advisor for future athlete development.
Dede received her BS in Exercise Science in 1988, Masters of Science in Organizational Development and Analysis in 2005 (Magma Cum Laude). She currently serves as a Senior Managing Consultant for IBM. Dede is also the Benefactor of the Dede Miller Award.