The St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni of the Year is former state Senator Harry Gast. A member of the class of 1938, he died in 2015 at the age of 94. Congressman Fred Upton was among those nominating Gast for the honor, saying he “exemplified what it means to be a public servant,” adding the senator “never forgot those he represented” and added while he could be blunt, “you could never question his motives as he put our corner of the state on the map.” He began his political career in the 1950s, serving as township supervisor, township treasurer, and a school board member before being elected to the state House in 1970. Gast was elected to the Senate in 1978, and served until 2002. For 18 years, he served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Appropriations Room in the Capitol is named for him. Part of M-63 north of St. Joseph was named the Harry Gast Parkway in 2008.