Armor of Light Awardees
“In appreciation of your dedication and continued service to your faith, community, and Saint John’s Preparatory School.”
┼Mary EllenBecker Johnson
Before passing in July 2017, Mary served our Saint John’s Prep as a biology teacher, coach and mentor. Mary showed unwavering support of our students, alumni/ae and staff. Whether she was driving across the state with her championship Envirothon teams or happily greeting our alumni/ae at the Legacy Dinner, her dedication and compassion for the people of Saint John’s Prep was evident in everything she did.
John Ditzler ’58
John, known as “Cub” to family and friends, has been a longtime Saint John’s Prep Prep supporter and volunteer. Since graduating in 1958, he has been a participant at scores of alumni/ae events and functions, offering not only his presence but also his leadership. John’s leadership and support has also benefited innumerable young men and women through his decades-long commitment and volunteerism at Laketrails Base Camp near Bemidji, Minnesota. John met his wife, Julie, at Laketrails in 1959. Together, their support of this camp and it’s strong values of conservation and cooperation have created a safe haven for young people to explore their faith, as well as the wilderness.
2016 Bill Marrin ’61
Nominated by his classmates, Bill Marrin ’61, is the 50th recipient of the Armor of Light Award. Friends and family recognized Bill’s longtime devotion to Saint John’s Prep and our students. They also cited his constant school spirit and enthusiasm for Saint John’s. Bill has served as a volunteer, advocate and fundraiser for Saint John’s Prep. He’s scheduled countless events and reunions with his classmates and fellow Preps to support SJP.
2015 Jerry Streeter ’52
Throughout his adult life, Jerry has lived the values of love, courage and integrity, giving witness daily to the Benedictine values he learned at Saint John’s Preparatory School. Jerry has lovingly lead an unwavering advocacy to locate Col. David Hrdlicka ‘50 who was shot down in 1965 during the Vietnam War. Jerry is also a devoted supporter of Saint John’s Prep and its people. Whether its a presentation to students or a speech to alumni/ae, he is the first to volunteer and serve our community.
2014 Henry ’69 and Mary Ann Padgett
Henry ’69 and Mary Ann Padgett have been steadfast proponents and supporters of Catholic education. Their love of and dedication to St. John’s Preparatory School has been evident for many years, through their generous donations of time, talent & treasure. They both strive to embody & live the mission and Benedictine values of St. John’s. Even after their four children graduated from Prep, they continue to support the school, including Henry’s term on the Alumni/ae Association Board.
2013 Joe ’66 and Mary Bauer
Joe ’66 and Mary Bauer were nominated by classmates for the Armor of Light Award for their efforts to establish Quiet Oaks Hospice, a residential hospice care facility in St. Cloud. Joe and Mary have worked tirelessly to create a tranquil and comforting home dedicated to serving the terminally ill. Their welcoming spirit brought together fellow Prep alumni and community members to collaborate and provide professional expertise and financial assistance. Today Quiet Oaks is an invaluable resource for the terminally ill and their families
2013 +Al and Jean Leighton
+ Alver and Jean Leighton have been stalwart community servants in the St. Cloud area and give generously of their time, talent and treasure to civic and community affairs. They have dedicated their lives to a personal involvement in and commitment to higher education issues, religion and philanthropy. Sadly, Al passed away on June 28, 2012, but the impact he has made at Prep lives on. Al and Jean have nine children, the youngest four attended Prep; Robert ’79, Mary Jo ‘80, Judith ’84 and Jeffrey ’88.
2012 Michael Percuoco
Mike has been a dedicated member of the Prep faculty for over thirty years. During that time he not only was an effective and favorite chemistry teacher of many, but a dedicated coach for many sports during the years. Leading the boys basketball team to the state tournament in 1984 and many very competitive teams outside of that year. His commitment to the Prep Community and the broader St. John’s community has been long and consistent.
2012 +Fr. Nick Doub, OSB
Fr. Nick began his service to the Prep School in 1991 as the Resident Director for the Melk Exchange Program. In an era when volunteers to lead the Melk Program were few and far between, Fr. Nick agreed to lead two consecutive classes. Fr. Nick led his students on countless excursions throughout Europe. His seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of history, art, architecture, and especially music made these trips come alive. He was an empathetic leader who understood the challenges his students faced, but he also enforced high and exacting standards for their behavior, academics, and personal development. His Melk students will undoubtedly list his leadership as one of the significant influenced in their lives. Fr. Nick returned from Austria and was asked to become the Boys’ Residence Director at Prep, a position he held for the next five years. Fr. Nick provided much needed consistency after years of Residence Director turn-over. He became a-often primary-father-figure for nearly 200 young men during his tenure. He was a caring, compassionate role model for an oft-neglected group of students suffering from homesickness, academic pressures, depression, and traditional teenage angst. Fr. Nick remained a fixture at Prep events and resident activities-often leading mass in the Boy’s Dorm-until his sudden death in 2002. While his time at Prep was cut short, the legacy he built by influencing a decades-worth of Prep students lives on in their accomplishments. For those of us privileged to know him, we can only hope that he is as proud of us as we grateful to him.
2011 Brian ’68 and Deb Thuringer
For the past 11 years the Prep Classic at Madden’s has been one of the largest annual single event fund raiser for Saint John’s Prep School. The revenues from this event are a vital part of the Prep School’s ability to provide financial assistance for students and are attributable solely to the generosity of Brian ’68 and Deb Thuringer. For this event Brian and Deb donate a full day of one of Minnesota’s most beautiful golf courses, including the necessary staff, concluded with a gourmet dinner to entertain 30 + foursomes of Prep alums and friends. All entry fee revenues are donated to Saint John’s Prep. This event has also become one of the largest single event gathering of Prep alums.
2011 +Mathew Ahmann ’49
Mathew Ahman ‘49 was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement and in the middle of lay Catholic leadership during the ‘50s and beyond to his death in 2001. Mathew gave one of the speeches from the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. In an interview by the Christian Science Monitor in 1983, Mathew reflected on the day, ”A group of us, the co-chairman of the march, went up to the Capitol in the morning to visit congressional leaders,” says Mathew Ahman, then director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice. ”And the clearest thing in my mind from that day is what we saw as we were leaving the Capitol. Wave after wave of people were marching down from Union Station, from buses, from trains. It was unbelievable.”
2010 Pete Cheeley
Pete dedicated over 33 years to the Prep School with a career as a faculty member, coach and athletic director. He touched many students lives as he promoted the student and athlete in each one. In 2008, he received the Class A Activities Administrator of the Year award for the state of Minnesota.
2010 +Fr. James Tingerthal ’52, OSB
Fr. Jim Tingerthal attended Saint John’s Preparatory School in the 1952. Fr. Jim taught Mathematics at Prep, except for the year he spent at Boston College earning a master’s degree, until 1969. He spent one academic year, 1968-1969, as director of the Study Abroad Program in Melk, Austria. While at Melk he taught English, Speech, and Social Studies as well as Mathematics. He was named Headmaster of Saint John’s Prep in 1972. As headmaster he opened the school to young women in the 1973-74 school year. Fr. James Tingerthal passed away on July 4, 2009.
2009 Joe Spano ’52
For an amazing 45 years and an estimated 10,000 clients, Joe dedicated his life to helping others to save their lives – or at least to salvage what was left of their lives and start anew. Joe served as a probation officer for Hennepin County in Minnesota. Joe’s career was focused on trying to help those who were usually never offered help, those who needed it more than most of us. Joe says, “Any school can teach you information; they can teach you how to make a living. Darn few schools can teach you how to make a life.”
2007 Dan ’64 and Linda Marrin
Lake Shore, MN; Sistersville, WV, received the 39th award in 2007, the first couple to be recognized with one award. Both served as SJP Regents, members of numerous committees, and as National Chairs of the To Light the Way comprehensive campaign from 2001-2007 that netted $18 million for the school. Linda is an executive coach and management consultant; Dan is a musician and real estate developer.
2006 Donn Thurk ’56
St. Bonifacius, MN received the 38th award in 2006. First Board Member Emeritus of the SJP Alumni/ae Association Board, one of the founders and promoters of the SJP Alumni/ae Association Scholarship endowment, co-founder of the Prep Classic at Madden’s, father of two SJP alums (Thomas ’85, Timon ’82), faithful friends, donor, benefactor.
2005 John B. Klassen, OSB ’67
Collegeville, MN; Elrosa, MN, received the 37th award of 2005. Tenth Abbot of Saint John’s Abbey, former SJP teacher, Chemistry Professor, Benedictine Values author/speaker. Provided courageous, compassionate, and visionary leadership to the entire Saint John’s community at a time when it was most needed.
2004 Lori Pfannenstein
St. Joseph, MN, received the 36th award in 2004, the 8th non-alumnus. Mother of two SJP alums (Tim ’86, Paul ’88), Prep School’s main office secretary/office manager for 15 years; faithful friend, donor and benefactor.
2003 Emmerich Sack
Melk, Austria; Cold Spring, MN, received the 35th award in 2003, the 7th non-alumnus. SJP German teacher, soccer coach, German camp founder and director, MELK director, Gasthaus director, faculty liaison to Regents.
2002 Gordon Tavis, OSB
Mandan, ND; Collegeville, MN, received the 34th award in 2002, the 6th non-alumnus. SJP’s 17th President/Headmaster, OSB Corporate Treasurer, SJP Board member, provided leadership for 80% enrollment growth, financial strength and stability; obtained $2MM gift from Abbey, Meyers Center constructed and boys’ dormitory renovated under his leadership.
2001 Laura Jane LaFond
St. Joseph, MN, received the 33rd award in 2001. Charter member of the school’s Board of Regents (Overseers), major benefactor including as a trustee of the Van Evera Foundation, mother of 11 children – 7 of them SJP alums.
2000 Patrick McNeil ‘55
Dayton, MN, received the 32nd award in 2000. Instrumental in the establishment and growth of the SJP Alumni/ae Scholarship Endowment, Alumni/ae Association president & board member, Prep promoter, benefactor.
1999 Godfrey Diekmann, OSB ‘23
St. Martin, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 31st award in 1999. Teacher, theologian, author, editor, mycologist, monk, had a significant worldwide influence on the Church’s liturgical movement pre- and post-Vatican II.
1998 Eugene McCarthy ‘32
Watkins, MN, received the 30th award in 1998. Erudite and articulate valedictorian of the Class of ‘32, author, poet, statesman, teacher, United States Senator, U.S. presidential candidate in 1968.
1997 Oliver Kapsner ‘49
Rogers, MN, received the 29th award in 1997. Banker from Rogers, MN, member of the Alumni/ae Association board, Hanse Fest organizer, Prep promoter, benefactor. Nephew of Oliver Kapsner, OSB ’20, founder of the Melk program.
1995 Peter Froehle
St. Cloud, MN, received the 28th award in 1995. The fourth non-alumnus to receive the award. Longtime Prep physics, driver education, and math teacher; coach; parent. Taught at Prep since 1957.
1994 Thomas Andert, OSB ‘65
St. Paul, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 27th award in 1994. Fifteenth Prep Headmaster/Dean (1988-1994) before the title changed to president; Prep teacher and prefect.
1993 Dennis M. Cavanaugh ‘56
St. Anthony Village, MN, received the 26th award in 1993. CEO of the Soo Line Railroad, longtime Prep promoter, Board of Regents member, capital drive chairman, benefactor.
1992 Joseph Wenner ‘63
Cold Spring, MN, received the 25th award in 1992. Pediatric dentist practicing in St. Cloud, MN, member of the school’s board of regents (Overseers), he and his wife, Mary, sent their four children to the Prep School.
1991 R. A. (Jim) Randall ‘58
St. Paul, MN, received the 24th award in 1991. Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge, longtime Prep promoter, Alumni/ae Association board president & member, liaison with and advocate of the Minnesota Native American communities.
1990 Fabian Wegleitner, OSB ‘27
St. Paul, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 23rd award in 1990. Prep teacher, prefect.
1989 Robley B. Evans
Albany, MN, received the 22nd award in 1989. The third non-alumnus to receive the award. Longtime Prep teacher, coach, first lay Dean; Mayor of Albany, MN.
1988 Floribert I. ‘Flip’ Spanier ‘51
St. Paul, MN, received the 21st award in 1988. Business person, president of the Catholic Aid Association of Minnesota until his retirement in 1997. First Alumni/ae Association President, Prep promoter, benefactor.
1987 Carl Dorenkemper ‘25
Minneapolis, MN, received the 20th award in 1987. Business person, longtime Prep promoter and benefactor. (Left a bequest of $125,000 to the Prep School upon his death.)
1986 Eric Buermann, OSB ‘37
Richmond, MN; Collegeville, MN; Humacao, Puerto Rico, received the 19th award in 1986. Prep teacher, prefect, longtime adviser for the Prep World publication.
1986 Gregory T. Merz ‘68
Wayzata, MN, received the 18th award in 1986. Minneapolis business person; Alumni/ae Association Board.
1985 Samuel Lickteig, OSB
Austin, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 17th award in 1985. The second non-alumnus to receive the award. Prep algebra teacher and longtime Gasthaus promoter/ worker.
1985 John E. Brandt ‘58
St. Paul, MN, received the 16th award in 1985. Lawyer, Alumni/ae Association president, Prep promoter.
1984 Gregory (Cuthbert) Soukup, OSB ‘32
St. Paul, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 15th award in 1984. Eleventh SJP Dean; the first with the title of Headmaster, served 1958 -1972. Longest serving leader of the school (12 years). Prep teacher, theatre director, coach, prefect.
1984 Harry I. Holtz ‘36
St. Paul, MN, received the 14th award in 1984. President of the Great Northern Trust, Prep fund raiser, promoter, member of the Saint John’s Board of Regents in the early days, benefactor, President and trustee of the Alliss Educational Foundation from which Prep received a $400,000 grant.
1983 Baldwin Dworschak, OSB ‘24
Collegeville, MN, received the 13th award in 1983. Fifth Abbot of the Saint John’s Abbey, teacher, coach, prefect.
1983 John ‘Hap’ Lundrigan ‘60
Osseo, MN, received the 12th award in 1983. Prep promoter, Regent
(Overseer), Alumni/ae Association board member and 3rd ‘unofficial’ president 1973-1975; co-founder of the Prep fund raising programs known as Hanse Fest.
1982 Otto Weber, OSB ‘52
St. Martin, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 11th award in 1982. Prep teacher, coach, prefect, promoter, founder of the Prep Summer Camps program.
1982 Edward J. Devitt ‘30
St. Paul, MN, received the 10th award in 1982. Federal judge, one of the first lay members of the Saint John’s University Board of Regents (before Prep was separated from SJU), benefactor.
1981 Vincent Tegeder, OSB ‘28
Minneapolis, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 9th award in 1981. Prep teacher, coach, prefect, football player, and Prep’s seventh Dean from 1942-1944. Longtime historian and archivist; co-founder of the Twin Towers Club.
1981 Thomas P. McKasy ‘26
St. Paul, MN, received the 8th award in 1981. Lawyer; early involvement in Alumni/ae Association
1980 +Alan J. Steichen, OSB
Collegeville, MN, received the 7th award posthumously in 1980. The first non-alumnus to receive the award. Thirteenth Dean/Headmaster; died in office, suddenly, and at a young age in 1979.
1980 Joel Strangis ‘66
Robbinsdale, MN, received the 6th award in 1980. Prep School’s first development director and first alumni/ae director separate from the overall SJU. established a solid foundation upon which to grow the Association. Remembered as a great wrestler in his Prep School days and as a vibrant member of the faculty.
1979 Arnold Weber, OSB ‘44
St. Martin, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 5th award in 1979. Prep coach, teacher, prefect, and admissions recruiter. Headmaster at Benilde – St. Margaret High School. Pastor at Detroit Lakes, MN and at parishes in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis & St. Paul, notably Holy Name of Jesus.
1979 David F. Durenberger ‘51
Collegeville, MN, received the 4th award in 1979. Born and raised in Collegeville, MN, became a lawyer and United States Senator from Minnesota. On the faculty at the University of St. Thomas.
1978 Paul Marx, OSB ‘39
St. Michael, MN; Collegeville, MN, received the 3rd award in 1978. Prep coach, teacher, prefect. Founded the post-Roe v. Wade pro-life movement and established the Human Life Center at Saint John’s, subsequently named Human Life International and relocated to Washington, DC.
1978 Norbert R. Berg ‘49
Barronett, WI, received the 2nd award in 1978. Control Data VP, co-founder of the SJP Alumni/ae Association (separate from SJU), active fund raiser, member of the school’s board, active on many committees, benefactor.
1977 Julius C. Smith ‘48
Chaska, MN, received the inaugural award in 1977. Lawyer, founder of the Minnesota Renaissance Fair at which many, many loaves of Johnny Bread were sold. He and his wife, Mary, were two of the school’s first Regents (then, Overseers) when governance was evolving to a partial lay board. Six sons attended the Prep School.