ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Hal Rahn ’72 always wanted to be a BC Cadet

By Noell Barnidge
Benedictine Military School graduate Harold Alexander “Hal” Rahn (BC Class of 1972) is president and chief operating officer of Norcom, among the largest American manufacturers and distributors of office and school paper products sold in the United States. The Griffin, Ga., resident has held the position since 1993 and he credits BC with playing an instrumental role in his success.

“I’m confident that I would not be the person that I have been able to become if it hadn’t been for Benedictine,” he said. “No question about it. I’m just lucky. I’m lucky my parents sent me there.”

Rahn always wanted to be a BC Cadet.

“I knew from a very early age,” he said. “I went to St. Paul’s Lutheran School on Bull Street in the ’63 timeframe. I would see the Cadets marching and I said, ‘That’s where I’m going to school.’ I knew where I wanted to go to school all my life but I didn’t know if I’d get to go there. It was really never a choice for my parents from the beginning.”

At BC, Rahn played football and baseball for four years, and was selected to the all-city football team in 1971. He was in the JROTC program all four years and was commissioned as a Brigade XO. He played both basketball for three years, was a member of both the National Honor Society and Student Council for two years and earned a place on the honor roll all four years. Rahn also was on the Sabre (yearbook) staff and in B-Club for three years.

“I was busy,” he said, laughing. “It was a busy but wonderful time.”

Rahn was born Dec. 17, 1954. After graduating from BC in ’72, he attended Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was a standout baseball player. In 1975, he earned Collegiate Athletic Conference honors as an outfielder.

“I played football my freshman year and then I got injured,” he said. “But I played baseball all four years. I had a good year that year (1975). I could hit. I think the last thing I saw was that I had a career .375 (batting) average. My freshman year, we changed from wood (bats) to aluminum. And that changed the world. That made little guys like me able to hit a ball farther and harder.

“My best sport was baseball,” he continued. “I was very fortunate. We had a connection (at BC) with Coach (Danny) Simons, who had just left the (Philadelphia) Phillies organization. He was an incredible baseball coach. He ran a program just like any pro team would run. We all just learned so much from him. Most of us played American Legion baseball for him. He was the coach of our legion team. And then we were blessed to have Coach (Tommy) Cannon follow him. We had a really good baseball program, some real good players.”

Rahn earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Sewanee: The University of The South in 1976. He returned to Savannah and enrolled at Armstrong, earning a degree in chemistry. But he decided against attending medical school and enlisted in the Navy.

“I went into the Navy because I wanted to get married,” said Rahn, who married Cathy on Nov. 24, 1979, and remains happily married. They have two children, and five grandsons. “I went to aviation officer candidate school and got commissioned there. My career, when you count the reserve time, it was right at 20 years. But I was only active, I think, for six years.”

Rahn retired from the Navy in 1995 as a Commander. He said being a member of BC’s JROTC program for four years made his transition into Navy life seamless.

“I did JROTC for four years,” he said of his time at BC. “That could be trying at times, especially in the beginning. It wasn’t a whole lot different than when I met my Marine Corps drill instructor in 1979. I didn’t have a hard time with that. I was prepared. BC really was the starting point for a very interesting career. It was, to me, the enabler. When I was in the Navy, I was on aircraft carriers and going all over the place. I was able to adjust and have bad days and those type things. And when I was at Sewanee, it wasn’t always wonderful. Sometimes I’d forget to study as hard as I should. Somehow, I was always able to pull myself up and I really credit that to the way we were trained at BC.”

Rahn said his favorite memories of BC are sports related.

“I met just so many wonderful teammates there,” he said. “And we had good teams. That was important. We would play in the region championship pretty much every year in baseball and football. I loved the sports aspect of it. Really, I loved everything about it. It prepared me for many things to come. What I realized when I was there is that it’s hard to find true mentors and true friends like you make there. I’m sure there are other places that you can but I felt extremely close, which many, many, many people did, to Fr. Albert (Bickerstaff), to Fr. (Briant) Halloran, to Coach (Jim) Walsh, to Coach (Danny) Simons, and Coach (Tommy) Cannon. They were mentors. They weren’t just coaches. They gave you a lot to take with you.

“My three greatest individual accomplishments there … I never looked at things much that way but, looking back on them, they were pretty big … was when I was a freshman, I got the Ideal Freshman award,” he continued. “That was good because I didn’t know anyone when I came to BC. I had to make all new friends. As a senior, I got the Neil Sledge Award, the sportsmanship award. The Sledge Award meant a great deal to me because it recognized a trait I wanted to be known for.

What’s next for Rahn?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m still too young to retire. I’ll continue working. I do a tremendous amount of volunteer stuff. I’m the past senior warden at my church, St. George’s Episcopal Church. I’m the past chair of the school, St. George’s Episcopal School. I’ve served as a trustee at (Sewanee) The University of the South as well as an advisory board member of the School of Theology where my wife Cathy and I both completed the Theology School’s four-year Education for Ministry (EfM) program. I am currently an Emeritus Director of The Flint River Keeper Board of Directors, as well as a Board Member of First National Bank of Griffin.”

Rahn returned to BC on Oct. 20, 2018, for the Wall of Honor ceremony, which recognized Benedictine graduates who have continued their athletic careers at the college or professional level.

“It was fun,” he said. “It’s really cool and meaningful to the school and the individuals. I don’t get to communicate with my friends as much, but I do get back to Savannah more than I used to. We look forward to perhaps spending more time in Savannah in the future.”