“Where have all the young men gone?”
It was this question, posed in a magazine article he read in the early 1980s, that raised Dan Erdel’s awareness and concern about boys falling behind in school, in academics and overall engagement, compared to females. Forty years later, the same concern still holds true. The Oct. 1, 2022, New York Post article “Why American boys are failing at school – and men are losing in life” shares data that shows, across the nation, boys are significantly lagging behind girls academically.
Erdel, co-founder and partner of Erdel, Owings, Tanzey & Newton, P.C. Attorneys at Law in Mexico, Missouri, believed then – and now – that a lack of strong male role models in many young men’s lives contributes to their struggle and why they fall behind. It’s one of the main reasons he’s become invested in the success of Missouri Military Academy.
“I had a strong family and strong male influences in my life,” says Erdel. This solid foundation and knowledge that many young men lack the same, combined with respect for his friend Charles Stribling III, led him to his initial support of MMA and to his current role as a member of the Board of Trustees, a position he has held since 2016. Stribling III’s relationship with MMA spanned three quarters of a century — student, alumnus, teacher, administrator, president and chairman of the board – following in the footsteps of his father Colonel Charles R. Stribling, Jr. who served as Academy president from 1933-1968.
“When I was asked to join the MMA Board, it was a no brainer,” Erdel says, whose service in the Army contributed to his appreciation of the benefits of MMA’s military educational model and lessons in self-discipline for young men. “I always admired Charlie and what MMA was doing to help young men through education, discipline and strong male role models. MMA’s purpose is to mold young men – academically, spiritually, and socially – into leaders of tomorrow.”
Erdel’s support for MMA reflects his own strong family values and dedication to community. A Mexico, Missouri, resident since 1976, Erdel and his wife Cheri worked to set their own positive examples for their daughter and two sons, plus a foster son. Erdel has served as Boy Scout leader and been active in numerous Mexico area organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, the Audrain County Historical Society Board of Directors, Presser Hall Restoration Society Board of Directors, the St. Brendan’s Catholic Church Parish Council, Knights of Columbus Council 3760, Missouri Veterans Home Assistance League, Arthur Center Board of Directors, Mexico Rotary Club, and Mexico Kiwanis Club. He co-founded and served as president of both the Mexico Area Community Service Agency and the Mexico Community Foundation, Inc.
MMA President BG Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret) with Cheri and Dan Erdel at the Alumni Awards Dinner, MMA Homecoming, in Oct. 2022.
Erdel says he has been pleased to see MMA’s reputation and rapport with the local community strengthen over the years. “I see MMA cadets as admired by local townsfolk, including Mexico High School students. You can see it reflected when cadets are out and about or at sporting events,” he says.
“When the Fusileers Drill Team performs, the crowd stands up and gets into it,” he shares as an example, commenting that where once was rivalry between the local Mexico community and the Academy there is now respect and support.
“MMA is so important to the local economy of Mexico,” says Erdel. “The Academy is a draw to others to come and see the vitality of our county, in addition to the good job it is doing in educating young males.”
To encourage local youth to benefit from MMA and to honor his friend, Erdel worked to establish the Charles Stribling Community Scholarship (also known as the Mexico Community Scholarship). The scholarship provides funding for students from Mexico, Missouri, who show leadership potential to attend the Academy. Recipients are known as Stribling Scholars in honor of Stribling Jr. and Stribling III, MMA Class of 1944. Learn more about MMA scholarships.
“I wanted to bring MMA more into the community,” Erdel says about his motivation to enable local boys to attend through scholarship funding.
He encourages other local residents and businesses to support MMA, particularly through such scholarship support. In addition to his own giving, Erdel serves on a local charitable foundation board that provides grant support to MMA — the Griffin Family Foundation.
“I believe in the MMA mission 100%,” says Erdel. “With my background in the military, Boy Scouts and Big Brothers, it’s part of my fiber to give back, plus I support MMA out of respect to the Stribling family and what they did to build MMA. I believe it’s important to have local representation on the MMA Board of Trustees and share the pulse of the community. We all need to provide financial support for MMA.”
MMA Board of Trustees member Dan Erdel stands outside of Stribling Hall on campus.
Founders' Day is November 22
In 1889, the community of Mexico, Missouri, had a vision. They wanted a local academy to offer classical education for boys, set a standard of academic excellence and provide learning with emphasis on discipline. Through their efforts and vision for the Academy’s potential, Missouri Military Academy came to be — founded on Nov. 22, 1889.
More than 130 years later, much has changed for the Academy born from that initiative, but our mission remains the same — helping young men reach their full potential.
This Founders’ Day, we honor our founding communities’ vision for MMA and celebrate the positive impact we continue to have on MMA cadets.
Please help us honor the vision of our founding Mexico community. Support our mission with a gift to positively impact cadets. Make a difference today.