In the final days of 2023, the St. Thomas Family celebrated the exceptional lives of three champions for Basilian education and devout members of Houston’s Catholic community.
Michael John Cemo ‘63
An esteemed member of the prestigious Hall of Honor. An acclaimed and dynamic leader in Houston’s financial industry for more than three decades. The professional achievement surpassed only by an insatiable philanthropy that continues to impact generations of scholars at two alma maters, St. Thomas and the University of Houston.
Cemo and his wife Rebecca launched a family foundation in 2000 to fortify higher education and aid veterans’ affairs, local food insecurities, and animal welfare. In 2004, their substantial lead gift helped fund the St. Thomas Moran Fine Arts Center with a modernistic auditorium that bears their name. The Cemos later generously donated to the historic 4500Forever capital campaign that led to the Joplin Campus expansion and also contributed $3 million to establish the Michael J. Cemo Lecture Hall and Academic Center for UH’s C. T. Bauer College of Business, providing a 34,000-square-foot LEED-certified building.
Cemo earned his bachelor of science in economics with a minor in mathematics. During his profound business career, he served 18 years as Senior Vice President of Marketing at American Capital Management, followed by 15 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM Distributors, Inc., the retail-marketing arm of AIM Management Group Inc., as well as a director of AMVESCAP PLC.
In 1996, Cemo received the distinguished national honor in the mutual fund industry of being named Marketer of the Year by the Financial Times.
Cemo was appointed to the UH System Board of Regents in 2001 and served through August 2007. For fiscal year 2007 he was chair of the Endowment Management Committee and vice chair of the Administration and Strategic Planning Committee. He played principal roles on the University Advancement Committee, the Administration and Finance Committee, and the Audit Committee. He also founded the University’s Cougar Fund. In 2002, Cemo was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Bauer College.
Cemo served on boards at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Society of the Performing Arts, the Association for Community Television, the Houston Center for Photography, and the Ronald McDonald House-Houston.
Cemo was nurtured by a housewife mother and father with a fourth-grade education who initially worked the family farm. He became a barber and worked for forty-two years at the landmark Milby Hotel. Cemo grew up living a modest yet enriching life in the Montrose area.
From humble beginnings rose a goliath of giving and accomplishment. Cemo passed away on December 25 at 78, survived by Rebecca and children, Stephanie and Jason.
Albert Roland Melchor ‘89
A beloved father, devoted husband, cherished son, adored brother and uncle, and revered member of the St. Thomas faculty.
The 1989 St. Thomas graduate passed away on December 16 at 52, leaving a legacy of love, laughter, faith, and an enduring passion for mathematics. Beyond the classroom, he was a pillar of strength and beacon of joy for his wife Alycia, creating a home filled with warmth and happiness for their son Rolie, daughter Laura, and Alycia’s daughter Lyla.
Melcher attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston. He crafted a significant teaching career for more than two decades, instilling a passion for life-long learning while contributing to students’ spiritual growth. His infectious, spontaneous personality was a constant source of joy.
But Melcher’s defining quality was his Catholic faith which served as a guiding light in a life dedicated to the pursuit of goodness, discipline, and knowledge and the nurturing of family bonds.
Lawrence Edward Miggins
A life-long bastion for Catholic virtues whose actions embodied the priesthood of the laity.
From his Irish Bronx, New York City roots, Miggins and his wife Kathleen would relocate to Houston where they raised 12 children and sent eight sons to St. Thomas – Rory ‘74, John ‘77, Larry ‘78, retired United States Air Force Maj. Matthew ‘83, Neil ‘88, Robert ‘90, Patrick ‘92, and Michael ‘95. Daughters Noreen and Maureen are long-time advocates and supporters of the University of St. Thomas.
Matthew’s son John ‘17 was a National Merit Finalist, Phi Beta Kappa scholarship recipient, and the valedictorian of his St. Thomas class. He graduated in 2021 from the University of Southern California as a Global Prize Award recipient.
Larry enjoyed an 11-year professional baseball career spent mostly in the minors yet he intersected with some of the game’s glorious greats.
After serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Miggins was playing third base for Jersey City in the Giants system in 1946 when Jackie Robinson played his first professional game as a Montreal Royal.
While in high school at Fordham Prep, Miggins was talking with good friend and baseball teammate Vin Scully, the future beloved voice of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball and beyond. They quizzed each other one day on what they dreamed for their futures. Miggins revealed to Vin he wanted to be a major league ballplayer. Vin responded he wished to be a sports broadcaster.
Scully recounted in 2022 with his inimitable style and grace that “we wondered what are the odds of us making those goals. Well, would you believe, that in 1952, the St. Louis Cardinals came to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Who’s in the lineup – my friend Larry Miggins. Sure enough, he came up, and would you believe, he hit a home run which I described off left-hander Preacher Roe. As Larry ran around the bases, I could not believe a billion-to-one shot had occurred directly in my lap. That’s the one that I’ll never forget.”
Miggins would hammer only one other home run in his brief stay in the major leagues. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of St. Thomas in 1952 largely through correspondence classes during the season. Miggins later received a Master of Criminology from Sam Houston State University and invested 21 years as chief of the probation and parole division for the Southern Division of Texas.
Miggins was inducted into the State University of New York Maritime College Hall of Fame, the Fordham Prep Hall of Fame, and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. His heritage passed to 35 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren is a limitless empathy and compassion for others supported by an unwavering belief in God.
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.