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Auburn Alumni Association honors lifetime achievers

AUBURN – The Auburn Alumni Association has selected four Auburn University graduates as recipients of its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. They are: shipping magnate Robert Kenneth Johns ’57 of Summit, N.J.; insurance mogul J. Smith Lanier II ’49 of Lanett; rocket scientist Gerald W. Smith ’61 of Huntsville; and retired astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton ’74 of Charlottesville, Va.

A Mobile native and former Tigers lineman, Johns retired as president and chief operating officer of Sea-Land Service Inc., which ultimately developed, engineered and implemented containerized ocean shipping, revolutionizing world trade. He subsequently founded The Hampshire Management Group Inc., is an inductee of the International Maritime Hall of Fame and in 2006 received Auburn’s Walter Gilbert Award for former athletes who have distinguished themselves through achievements after graduation.

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