BY CALEB ALEXANDER
Eight people will be inducted into the Mater Dei High School Hall of Honor on Friday May 7. The Hall of Honor was established in 1997 to recognize Mater Dei alumni who have lived their lives as witnesses to the mission of who the school is named after, Mary, Mother of God.
This year’s ceremony will cover the inductees being honored for both 2020 and 2021. There was no induction last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mater Dei graduates being honored for this year include:
LIEUTENANT GENERAL ERIK FICK, CLASS OF 1966
He is also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. A member of the Air Force since 1990, Lt. Fick has dedicated his life to serving his country.
He has received a distinguished service medal, defense superior service medal, legion of merit honors, defense meritorious service medal, meritorious service medal with an oak leaf cluster, aerial achievement medal with an oak leaf cluster, joint service commendation medal, Air Force commendation medal with an oak leaf cluster, Air Force achievement medal and military outstanding volunteer service medal.
Lt. Fick is a member of the fourth degree Knights of Columbus in Centreville Ohio and a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle Virginia. He is the father of six children. Currently he serves as program executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office which is an agency of the Department of Defense.
His advanced degrees are from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Air University and National Defense University. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot school.
RICHARD “PETE” JANSEN, CLASS OF 1957
Pete is a veteran of the United States Army National Guard and retired from the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is a resident of Breese and member of St. Dominic Catholic Church.
Pete was the first timekeeper for Mater Dei boys’ basketball games, a basketball official for many years and a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a “friend of basketball”.
Along with serving as an usher at St. Dominic, Pete is a member of the local Knights of Columbus Council 2869, past president of the Breese Jaycees and former member of the Breese Park Board.
DAVE KOHNEN, CLASS OF 1971
Dave resides in Germantown where he is a member, altar server and usher at St. Boniface Catholic Church, also a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 2869.
He worked at the Monterrey Coal Company in Clinton County for 15 years then became a business education teacher at Mater Dei in 1994. For his dedication to students, he was the Mater Dei Educator of the Year in 2002.
For 31 years, Dave has been head coach of the Mater Dei girls basketball team with a winning percentage of 73 per cent, 14 regional titles, 6 sectional titles and one appearance in the state finals. He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2015.
His devotion to school sports includes serving as head coach of the boys and girls track and field teams at Mater Dei from 1993 to 2020 including leading the 2021 state champions in the 1A girls class. As head coach of the girls cross country team, he saw 13 regional titles, 4 sectional titles and 18 appearances at state finals including a championship in 2003.
MICHELLE “SHELLY” SCHUETZ, CLASS OF 1988
Shelly is the coordinator of the Beyond the Cure scholarship program for the National Children’s Cancer Society where she has been employed since 1998. She is a graduate of Hickey College in St. Louis.
Her passion for lay ministry includes developing a program for youth and serving as minister for youth at St. Bernard and St. Damian Catholic Churches in Albers and Damiansville.
For the Diocese of Belleville, Shelly is a member of leadership teams for the Quest and Teens Encounter Christ retreats and the Quest board. At St. Bernard, she serves as a cantor and choir member, along with teaching cantoring to the youth of the parish there. She has also served as St. Bernard’s children’s choir co-director and a Sunday School and Bible School teacher.
A resident of Breese, she is the daughter of Dan and Lee Love and the late Floyd Schuetz.
The Mater Dei graduates being honored for 2020 include:
RUTH EVERSGERD, CLASS OF 1963
For 45 years, Ruth has been a trained volunteer telecounselor for the Diocese of Belleville Pregnancy Aid Hotline. She also served for 16 years from 1998 to 2014 as a teacher’s aide at Germantown Elementary School and for 25 years as a catechist at St. Boniface Catholic Church where she guided students in their formation of faith, especially in preparation for confirmation.
She is a past president and quilting committee chairman for the Mater Dei Mothers & Friends group and parish pro-life co-coordinator at St. Boniface. Her memberships also include the ladies sodality at St. Boniface and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
Ruth is a resident of Germantown with 5 children, all who are graduates of Mater Dei, and 10 grandchildren.
KATHIE HEIMANN, CLASS OF 1961
Kathie formerly was the in-service education director at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese, leading employee training programs then was a community education director who increased awareness about health issues. Those duties included setting up health fairs for the public and the American Cancer Society Look Good Feel Better program before she retired in 2009.
She is now a member of the HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Advisory Board and auxiliary, the Clinton County Senior Citizens Board and the behavioral management committee for Community Link. For 25 years previously, she was a member of the Clinton County Health Board.
Kathie’s education background includes degrees from Belleville Area College and McKendree University plus masters from Fontbonne University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
As a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Germantown where she resides, Kathie is the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for homebound parishioners and member of the ladies sodality.
DEACON JOHN HEMPEN, CLASS OF 1970
John has extensive involvement in many programs related to the Catholic Church mission. From 2012 to 2019 he was a member of the Mission Effectiveness Committee of the Mater Dei school board and now is a deacon at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Salem where he has been a member all of his life. He also was a lector and musician there over the years.
For the Diocese of Belleville, John has been the secretary for the North Central Vicariate since 2000 and its pre-cana coordinator since 1990. He has been involved with the Knights of Columbus since 1976 and was a past grand knight for it in Carlyle. His service to that organization was recognized in 2008 when he received a state medallion in 1994 and a fourth degree masters medallion in 2008.
He was part of the theology department at Mater Dei from 1995 until 2000 and was ordained as a deacon in 1997. In 2020 he retired as chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia after serving in that role since 2000.
DON SCHOMAKER, CLASS OF 1974
For over 20 years, Don has been a member of the Mater Dei Knights Club. He is a strong advocate of Catholic education who promotes and supports all of the school’s events like the annual golf tournament, dinner auction, extracurricular programs and marketing.
He is a previous member of the Mater Dei Fathers & Friends and the school foundation board. His strong support also includes Camp Ondessonk which is operated by the Diocese of Belleville.
Don is the president of SDS Stores Inc. He owns several stores and restaurants including Eddie’s Rise ‘n’ Dine in Breese which was named after his late father, Edwin Schomaker who was inducted into the Mater Dei Hall of Honor in 2006, so they will now be the first father-son pair in the hall.
A resident of Germantown, Don belongs to St. Boniface Catholic Church.
Don has a degree in business and economics from Culver-Stockton College in northeast Missouri and a masters from Lindenwood University.