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Distinguished Alumni Award

Dick PavelskiPacelli Honors Businessman, Philanthropist Dick Pavelski with Distinguished Alumni Award

Pacelli Catholic Schools is pleased to announce the recipient of their prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award. Businessman and philanthropist Richard “Dick” Pavelski, a Pacelli Catholic High School graduate of the class of 1967, has been a force in Central Wisconsin agriculture, entrepreneurship, and stewardship for decades.

Most notably, Pavelski is known for his legacy as a 4th generation farmer behind Heartland Farms, Inc., recognized globally for the significant role he’s played in pioneering many of the state-of-the-art best practices in agriculture today. Outside of farming, Pavelski is an active, dedicated community member having served in a variety of capacities on local and national boards, including past roles as Village of Amherst President, US Potato Board and National Potato Council, and Trustee for Pacelli Catholic Schools Foundation, to note a few.

Pavelski’s greatest success, though, is perhaps investing in the futures of his fellow community members. He is without a doubt on the leading edge of job creation and entrepreneurism, having backed over 36 closely held companies and creating over 2,000 new jobs nearly all in Central Wisconsin at places like River Cities Bank, Portage County Bank, Ki Mobility, Wound Zoom, Intevation Foods, Service Cold Storage, and 212 Fitness.

His generosity is second to none, having been quietly very generous to numerous schools and community endeavors including supporting local STEM education, numerous scholarships supporting Central Wisconsin schools, and many community healthcare needs like the breast care center and EMS solutions for Portage County.

Currently, Pavelski has been working on a passion project to bring agricultural education to the broader public, ensuring everyone creates connections to where food comes from and changing the stereotypes of what it means to be a farmer. His project, The Farming for the Future Foundation, will help create education in many
schools throughout the country and has plans in the works for a state-of-the-art interactive museum dedicated to agriculture located right here in Central Wisconsin.

Due to the current guidelines surrounding gatherings, Pavelski will be formally recognized in the spring of 2021 with a recognition brunch. He will also serve as the keynote speaker at the Pacelli Catholic High School Class of 2021 graduation ceremony.

Since the years they’ve walked the halls of St. Joseph Academy, Maria High School, or Pacelli Catholic High School, our alumni have distinguished themselves in exceptional ways. This Distinguished Alumni section on our Alumni website is Pacelli Catholic Schools’ way to honor and say thanks to so many of our alumni who have demonstrated that they were, and continue to be, an integral part of our community of believers.

>> Click here to submit a nomination for the Distinguished Alumni Award!

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2020: Richard “Dick” Pavelski ’67 2009: Sandy (Lepak) Retzki ’82
2019: Daniel Rashke ’83 2008: Maureen (Rybicke) Colin ’66
2018: Fr. William “Bill” Menzel ’59 2007: Andy Altenburg ’83
2017: James (Ness) Niespodziani ’59 2006: Ron Retzke ’66
2016: Suzanne (Kort) Koehl ’78 2005: Joseph “Rusty” Mitch ’76
2015: John ’65 & Karen (Shannon) ’65 Clifford 2004: Sr. Jeanne Conzemius, SSJ-TOSF ’59
2014: Alan Cundari ’71 2003: Justice William Bablitch ’59
2013: Don Slusarski ’61 2001: Jim Cooper ’64
2012: Sr. Carlene Blavat, SSJ-TOSF ’54 2000: Fred Copps ’64
2011: Anne (Derezinski) Fluno ’59 1999: Wayne Kostroski ’69
2010: Ken Shibilski ’59


Eligibility & Award Criteria

St. Joseph Academy, Maria High School, and Pacelli Catholic High School graduates who have displayed exemplary community involvement and devotion to Catholic principles are eligible candidates for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

  • Graduated from St. Joseph Academy, Maria High School, or Pacelli Catholic High School at least 10 years ago
  • Outstanding professional and/or volunteer achievements
  • Exemplifies a Christian lifestyle
  • Successful in areas of leadership, service, and character in both private and public life
  • Achievements having brought honor and distinction to St. Joseph Academy, Maria High School, or Pacelli Catholic High School
  • Recognition and reputation extending beyond the immediate environment in which he/she lives and works


Do you know someone who should be a Pacelli Distinguished Alumni? Submit your nomination now!

Distinguished Service Award

While they may not be alumni, we are blessed with many supporters of Pacelli Catholic Schools who have dedicated their lives to excellence in Catholic education and serving our schools in exceptional ways. The Distinguished Service Award is our way to honor and say thanks to those in our Catholic school community who have demonstrated that they were, and continue to be, an integral part of our schools.

Distinguished Service Award Recipients

2013: Christian Brothers

2002: Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis