SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University recently honored four graduates with Distinguished Alumni Merit Awards. Eugene Monaco (’68), Karen Sayre (’81 & ’85), Richard Sayre (’79), and Fawn Sharp (’91) were recognized at a special dinner Oct. 18 for exemplifying the University’s ideals in their professional lives. More than 150 Gonzaga graduates have been honored since the annual awards were started in 1977.
Eugene “Gene” Monaco serves as chief executive officer of Monaco Enterprises, Inc. A Spokane Valley resident since age 5, Monaco earned an engineering degree from Gonzaga in 1968. After graduating from Gonzaga, he continued working for his father, installing security and fire alarm systems for the U.S. government. Most of his work took place at U.S. Department of Defense sites nationwide. In 1971, Monaco purchased his father’s government contracts and started Monaco Enterprises, which he has transformed from an installation contractor to a well-known manufacturer of alarm-system products. The Spokane-based company, which started with nine employees, currently employs 120 and generates $32 million in annual sales. The former owner of a racing car team, Monaco is a passionate supporter of Gonzaga basketball who has missed but a handful of games – home or away – in the last seven years.
Karen Sayre, a lawyer at Sayre and Sayre Attorneys at Law in Spokane, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga in 1991 before graduating from the Gonzaga University School of Law in 1985. She joined husband Richard Sayre at a mid-size law firm in Spokane in which they both became partners. In 1992, the couple started Sayre & Sayre, which specializes in elder law, helping clients with estate planning, long-term care, guardianship, tax and related matters. In addition to their law firm, the Sayres are prolific volunteers and teach a skills lab at Gonzaga Law School, helping students learn to write trusts and wills, among other skills. Karen Sayre has been repeatedly designated as a “Super Lawyer” by Washington Law and Politics magazine and is often honored as among the best lawyers in the area by Spokane Magazine.
Richard (Dick) Sayre is an attorney at Sayre and Sayre Attorneys at Law with wife Karen. After earning an undergraduate degree from University of Washington in 1976, he went graduated from Gonzaga Law School in 1979, the year he married Karen. Dick rose to partner at a mid-size firm in Spokane County before establishing his own firm with Karen in 1992. In addition to team-teaching a skills lab at Gonzaga, Dick and Karen have taught in the popular Gonzaga-in-Florence study abroad program. The couple spent five weeks in Italy in the summer of 2009 teaching international comparative elder law. He has been designated as a “Super Lawyer” by Washington Law and Politics magazine and has been named by Spokane Magazine as among the best attorneys in Spokane. He was named the 2005 Member of the Year by the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Fawn Sharp serves as president of the Quinault Indian Nation and Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. Graduating from high school at age 15, Sharp obtained a degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga in 1991. A University of Washington School of Law graduate, Sharp worked both as a judge and in private practice before serving as a staff attorney for the Quinault Indian Nation, in Taholah, Wash., as an administrative law judge for the Washington State Department of Revenue, as an associate judge for the Quinault Tribal Court and counsel for a firm specializing in elder law. Elected president of the 3,000-member Quinault Nation in 2006, 2009 and 2012, she has boosted economic development and created many opportunities for youth. Sharp works closely with people nationwide in her positions as the first female president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians. Internationally, she has worked on climate-change issues, working with heads of state and indigenous people worldwide.