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As an FBI leader, Ambrosian left a legacy

September 2012 | by Craig DeVrieze

The late Todd Mayberry '93, '00 MCJ revealed the depth of his character as a junior goalkeeper on the St. Ambrose soccer team midway through the 1991 season.

Until then, the St. Louis native had been the only man to stand in goal for a Bees soccer program that debuted in 1989.

"Andy Johnson beat him out halfway through the season and Todd showed his leadership then," said Ron Vandiver, the Bees first men's soccer coach. "He could have sulked and been a jerk. He wasn't. He right away started to help Andy and the other keepers get better."

Mayberry was just 41 when he died due to liver cancer on June 10 in Birmingham, Mich., but the character he revealed as a St. Ambrose student helped him live an accomplished Ambrosian life.

Perhaps the truest testament to that character could be found in the makeup of the 500-plus mourners who attended his June 18 memorial service in Birmingham.

There from across the country, his father said, were agents who had served under and alongside Mayberry during a 15-year career in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was a fast-tracked career that took Mayberry from Chicago to Washington and then to Iraq for 14 months in 2004 and 2005. In Iraq, he led a team of agents who collected the evidence used to convict Saddam Hussein and members of the deposed despot's regime on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

At the June memorial service, too, were members of the FBI's field office in Detroit, where in 2008 Mayberry was appointed to the rank of Assistant Special Agent in Charge and where he led a counterterrorism division. Among other high-profile cases there, he investigated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known as the underwear bomber who attempted to blow up an airliner on its approach into Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

And there at the memorial service-perhaps most tellingly, given Mayberry's exposure to the darkest aspects of Islamic extremism-were several Detroit area Imams. They were Muslim community leaders with whom Mayberry had worked throughout the last days of his life to help develop a trust and understanding with other ethnicities in the region.

"I think that was a tribute to the kind of person he was," said Darrell Mayberry, an understandably proud father of the former goalkeeper who became a peacekeeper.

Among so many other things, Todd Mayberry was a proud product of St. Ambrose University. "Oh my goodness, he really loved St. Ambrose," said his mother, Karen, a suburban St. Louis educator like her husband.

Mayberry loved the school enough to return here in pursuit of his master's in 1997. "We said ‘We'll take care of this,' and he had his choice," said his father. "And he chose St. Ambrose. He thought that highly of the criminal justice program."

Mayberry already was a member of the FBI's Chicago gang task force at the time he enrolled in the MCJ program and was especially appreciative of the way St. Ambrose accommodated his non-traditional schedule, his father said.

Barry Schmelzer, an adjunct professor in the criminal justice program from 1990 to 2000, said Mayberry made the most of his studies, regularly leading class discussions.

Clearly, Mayberry made the most of his 41 years, as well.

"At his age, to be in the position he was, having done the things he did, he leaves a wonderful legacy for his family," Schmelzer said.

That legacy is not lost on his wife of a few years. Amanda Becker began training this fall in Quantico, Va., to follow her late husband into the FBI. "He was an amazing man," she said "I'm lucky to have had him as a husband."


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