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March 29, 2004

Contact Pat Kerrigan at 796-3041 or


LA CROSSE, Wis--Marge Reinhart, a successful businesswoman known for her quiet philanthopy, and the Reverend Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, have been named recipients of  the 2004 Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service which will be presented at Viterbo University Thursday, April 22.

Recipients are selected by the Viterbo Board of Advisors and the award represents the highest non-academic honor conferred by the university.

Marge Reinhart and her husband, D. B. Reinhart, accomplished much as a couple during their 42 years of marriage.  They raised four children-Nancy, Patti, John and Robert.  They were steadfast in their commitment to their Catholic faith and their parish, Blessed Sacrament.  D. B. Reinhart died in 1996, but the business and philanthropic interests important to the couple, continues under the watchful stewardship of Marge Reinhart She is the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Reinhart FoodService, a food distribution company which serves restaurants, schools, colleges, hospitals and nursing homes from 12 divisions operating in 30 states. Over 2,700 employees, their families, and many of our communities have benefited from the success of the Reinhart Companies.  In 1986 the Reinharts' commitment to empowering other success stories within the non-profit sector, established the D. B. and Marjorie Reinhart Family Foundation.  Viterbo University, Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, Gundersen Lutheran, The Diocese of La Crosse, and Aquinas are just a few of many organizations to benefit from the generosity of this foundation.

William Medland, president of Viterbo University, indicated there was broad support for the nomination. "In honoring Marge Reinhart with the Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service, we collectively honor the wonderful spirit of this woman who quietly, and so generously, gives of her gifts with little recognition.  Her stewardship is a model for all," he said.
Father Dennis Dease has been president of the University of St. Thomas since 1991. Under his leadership, St. Thomas has expanded significantly its reputation, programs and facilities,, adding several major buildings to its St. Paul campus and establishing a Minneapolis campus for its College of Business, School of Education, and newly reopened School of Law. St. Thomas is now one of the largest Catholic colleges in the nation and at 11,000 students, it is the largest private college in Minnesota.

While Father Dease is known nationally as an outstanding educational leader, first and foremost, he is a priest.

Prior to his appointment as president, Father Dease was active in many areas as a scholar and leader. He earned a B.A. degree in Latin and philosophy from the St. Paul Seminary in 1965, a M.A. degree in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas in 1972, an M.Div. degree from the St. Paul Seminary in 1973, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America in 1978. He was ordained in 1969.

He taught theology at the then-College of St. Thomas and served as spiritual director and dean of formation at the St. Paul Seminary.  Prior to becoming president of St. Thomas, Father Dease was also associate pastor at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Hopkins, Minn. and, from 1985 to 1991, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

His leadership skills are highly respected by his peers. From 2000-02, he served as chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. He is now active in the International Association of Catholic Universities.

According to Medland, Fr. Dease is well known for his leadership skills, but Viterbo will be recognizing him for the many contributions he has made throughout his career. "While Fr. Dease is known nationally as an outstanding educator, first and foremost, he is a dedicated priest."

The ceremony and banquet, which will be held in the Fine Arts Center, is set for 6:30 p.m.  Call 608-796-3070 for ticket details.

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