Congratulations to our 2020 Hall of Fame Inductees!
Fr. Andrew Brunswick C.PP.S.
As a pastor and founder of Sedalia Catholic High School (renamed Sacred Heart High School in 1946), Fr. Brunswick quite literally laid the foundation for secondary Catholic education in Sedalia. His first assignment following his ordination in 1923 was to Sacred Heart Church as assistant pastor (1923-1929). It would be his return in 1940 that would forever change the landscape of Catholic education in Sedalia.
On September 22, 1941, Sedalia Catholic High School opened its doors to welcome 27 students as its pioneer freshman class. Each succeeding year another class was added. Accommodating an increase in students and meeting high school accreditation standards was not an easy task. Simply put, in the historical records, the author said: “How Fr. Brunswick managed to ready the school had each year is hard to see.” An excerpt from the diary of Shirley (Weimholt) Schieberl ’45, dated May 10, 1945, states: “How happy everyone was to hear on this evening, that Sedalia Catholic High School was recognized. There’s no doubt but that the work had been achieved only through the untiring efforts of Fr. Brunswick. It was he who worked and labored mentally and physically to have a Catholic High School in Sedalia. Every student owes a great debt of gratitude for his interest in the cause of Secondary Education.”
Because of his determination and perseverance, over 1,900 students have graduated from Sacred Heart High School steeped in faith and prepared to serve.
Will Kraus ’92
Will has dedicated the majority of his career in service to his country. Following graduation from Sacred Heart School in 1992, Will joined the United States Army. Following his tour, he attended Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri). He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1997.
Will continued his military career, joining the United States Army Reserve (1998 – 2011).
Will’s political career began in 2005 when he was elected to serve as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, a position he held until 2010. From 2011-2017, Will represented Missouri’s 8th State Senate district and served as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. In 2017, Will was appointed to the Missouri State Tax Commission, which he still serves.
Will has received numerous military awards throughout his service, including Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal. His legislative awards include the Americans for Prosperity Defender of Prosperity Award, Missouri Association of Veterans Outstanding Service Award, and Missouri Chamber Spirit of Enterprise Award. He’s also a five-time recipient of the Lock and Smith Foundation Award (Most Constitutional Senator).
Sue (Keller) Wise-Hoersten ’58
One only needs to spend a few minutes with Sue to know that she is a Gremlin through and through.
One doubts that upon her graduation, Sue had any inkling that over 35 years later, she would become Sacred Heart School’s first Development Director, tasked with developing private resources to support the long-term sustainability and growth of her beloved alma mater. She set the bar high for those who would follow in her footsteps. She was instrumental in establishing the Sacred Heart Foundation’s Annual Fund Drive, which to date has raised nearly $2 million, helping to carry the school through challenging times. Even though Sue stepped down upon moving from Sedalia, she mentors her successors and nurtures Sedalia friendships.
Sue did not always choose her “field,” but in prayer and faith gave her all to the field she was in, and in doing so, became a role model for others. A mother of seven (four of whom are SHS alumni), an active Catholic, a businesswoman, a civic leader, a loyal friend, she was “all-in” all the time. Whether in service to Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Booster Club, Daughters of Isabella, hospice, and many others, her late friend Sherri Osborn once said, “Whatever Sue touches Dynamo!”
Marilyn (Fischer) ’68 & Jack Arnold
“I can’t think of anyone quite like Marilyn Arnold, who exemplifies Christian values, loyalty, and service … who works so tirelessly for others,” said Cindy (Felten) Dick ’73. Gremlin pride was instilled into Marilyn as a child. She’d eventually bring her husband, Jack, along for the ride, and together they have lent decades of their time, knowledge, and generous steward hearts to champion for Sacred Heart School.
Jack and Marilyn married in 1971 and started their family. In 1975 Jack accepted a job as Controller of W J Menefee Construction Company and relocated the family to their hometown of Sedalia. They enrolled their daughters in Sacred Heart School, “confident they would receive a quality education.”
Jack and Marilyn quickly stepped into the active parents’ roles at Sacred Heart, lending time to various school dinners, programs, classroom projects, alumni reunions, and sports activities. Jack accepted a position with the Sacred Heart School Foundation serving for over 30 years as president and treasurer at various times. As one of the early members of the foundation, Jack laid the groundwork for its long-term success. Marilyn’s role at Sacred Heart School and Parish included School Advisory Council (president), Active Parent’s Club, SH Bazaar (chairperson), Parish Council (secretary), Worship and Spiritual Life, Eucharistic Minister, and Adoration Chapel Member. Marilyn was highly involved with church renovations, as well as renovating the convent into what is now the parish center.
Fr. Mark Miller, C.PP.S.
Fr. Mark Miller has always been the ultimate role model for the students, faculty, parish members, and the community in all areas but especially in the areas of social justice, faith, and positive actions. Following his ordination in 1971, Fr. Mark’s first assignment was at Sacred Heart School and Parish, where he taught at SHS and served as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Church and St. John the Evangelist missionary church in Bahner from 1971-1977.
He returned in August 2011, as pastor for the Catholic Community of Pettis County, serving the parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Patrick, and St. John the Evangelist as well as overseeing Sacred Heart School.
A strong supporter of Sacred Heart School, you could find Fr. Mark teaching and mentoring students in the classrooms, participating in pep rallies and parades, attending sports, drama, and music events, and actively participating in fundraisers such as the talent shows, bazaars, and concerts.
With his prayerful spirit, contagious laugh, and the support of many in the community, Sacred Heart Parish retired its debt and completed numerous necessary maintenance projects. One of the final and perhaps most important and pivotal moments in his service was bringing the Catholic Community together as one parish, St. Vincent de Paul. After 48 years of dedicated service, Fr. Mark retired from parish assignments in 2019 and is enjoying retirement in Liberty, Mo.
While his life’s work took him many places, it is fitting that Fr. Mark’s service as a parish priest began and ended in Sedalia. He has said more than once, “this is my home.”
Leo & Cecilia Gerke
The value of “putting God first” wasn’t just a motto for Leo and Cecilia Gerke; it was a way of life. Their strong foundation of faith and family is a legacy that continues to this day.
Since February of 1959, one or more direct descendants of Leo and Cecilia have or is still attending Sacred Heart School.
In the early years of their marriage, Leo worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in a position where traveling kept him away from home many days out of the week. Wanting to spend more time at home with Cecilia (who was managing the house) and their growing family, Leo left the railroad to pursue his dream of farming. The Gerkes moved to a farm in Cooper County and attended St. John’s Catholic Church in Clear Creek. Leo and Cecilia also envisioned their young family attending St. John’s Catholic School, where Cecilia had attended and had graduated in her 8th-grade year.
With their sixth child on the way, Leo and Cecilia moved the family to a smaller farm where Leo farmed part-time in addition to his full-time job digging holes for telephone poles. The family attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Clifton City and made sure their school-age children were on the bus to attend St. Patrick’s School in Sedalia. Three years later, the family moved to Beaman and became members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sedalia. With transportation again being an issue, the Gerke children attended public school, but Leo and Cecilia did not give up on Catholic education for their children.
While working one of his various side jobs (pouring concrete) at Sacred Heart Church, the pastor encouraged Leo to start his own business. In a leap of faith, Leo borrowed a truck from Cecilia’s parents and started Gerke Construction. By 1959, Leo and Cecilia had moved to Sedalia and thus began the legacy of the Gerke’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren attending Sacred Heart School.
Cecilia was an active member of the Daughters of Isabella for over 40 years, Jolly Elders, and the Sacred Heart Altar Society. Cecilia was the first female Eucharistic Minister at Sacred Heart. Leo made many games for the parish Bazaar, served on school board, and was also a Eucharistic minister. He also was a Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus.
Even after their passing (Leo on January 4, 2005, and Cecilia on February 14, 2018), their legacy still lives on, not only not only in the third-generation of Gerke’s attending SHS but in the brick and mortar of the church and school itself. Leo was highly involved in the creation of the stamped wall in front of the rectory, the flooring under the addition to the Hoying Gym, and sidewalks. Cecilia was instrumental in implementing kindergarten at Sacred Heart School.
For Bonnie Diefendorf, supporting Catholic education and Sacred Heart School has been her lifelong work. Her service to Sacred Heart spans over four decades in numerous capacities from an involved parent, elementary teacher, assistant principal, after school care director, and extracurricular advisor to a beloved retired member of the staff who continues to support the school community as a substitute teacher, volunteer, and regarded adviser and mentor.
Bonnie’s teaching career began in January 1972 when she joined the Sacred Heart School faculty as an educator for a third and fourth-grade class. In 1981, she rejoined Sacred Heart, where she served until her retirement in 2013. She spent 23 years as a full-time elementary teacher (1979-1999) before assuming a role on the administration team as elementary principal (1999-2009) and as full-time teacher and assistant principal (2009-2011). Bonnie served on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council for eight years, and served as NHS moderator (1994-2000). She is credited for bringing many new programs to SHS, such as Adopt-an-Artist, Arts Alliance, Afterschool Kids Club, ABC Awards, and the social studies, fine arts, and literature fair. Most notably of Bonnie’s contributions is the St. Jude Math-a-Thon.
By the 1990s, Bonnie’s skills in the classroom were finely honed; however, she felt a calling to do more to help SHS grow and thrive into the future. She found time on the nights and weekends to earn her master’s degree in elementary administration.
Bonnie was among the first educators to receive the Sacred Heart School Educator of the Year award. In 2005, she received the Alpha Delta Kappa Excellence in Education Award. She was also was a diocesan nominee for the NCEA Outstanding Educator two times.
Bonnie’s parish and community work is also far-reaching. She and her husband, Larry, have been members of St. Vincent de Paul Parish (formerly Sacred Heart) for 48 years. She is a member of the Daughters of Isabella and has held leadership positions on parish groups that include Social Concerns, Worship and Spiritual Life, and Christian Education. She served on the Bishop’s Pastoral Council for six years. Since 1973, Bonnie has been highly engaged with Missouri Right to Life, holding leadership positions on the local, state, and regional levels.
Jane McMullin ’87
Jane McMullin discovered at a very early age that teaching at Sacred Heart School was where she wanted to be. She has answered that calling to the fullest, which is evident in her devotion to teaching, her dedication to her students, and her love for Sacred Heart School.
Jane has been a fixture at Sacred Heart her entire life. Her parents, Mary Jo (Welliver) ’51 and Jesse McMullin were lifelong members of Sacred Heart Church. Jane received her elementary and high school education at Sacred Heart. Jane was involved in numerous academic and athletic activities including, Student Council (STUCO), National Honor Society (NHS), Science Club, Math Team, Mizpah, basketball, softball, and volleyball. She held various class officer roles throughout high school and served as STUCO president and NHS vice-president her senior year.
Following graduation in 1987, Jane signed on to play basketball for the East Central College Lady Rebels in Union, Mo., and graduated with an associate of arts degree in secondary education. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s degree in history from Central Missouri State University (now UCM) in Warrensburg. She credits her love of history to her father. “Whether it was through family vacations or genealogy, he sparked my interest in all things related to the past,” said Jane. That love of history has certainly shone through in her 29-year teaching career, all of which has been at Sacred Heart School.
“Jane’s enthusiasm in the classroom is unlimited,” said Marcia Turner, Jane’s former high school teacher, and current colleague. “Her creative approach to history is both challenging and interesting to her students. Her demand for excellence from her students creates an atmosphere of learning that gives students an opportunity to reach heights that they might not have attained.”
Jane has received numerous accolades, including Outstanding Graduate Student at UCM and two-time recipient of the Sacred Heart School Teacher of the Year. In 2016, the Osage Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Jane as the American History Teacher of the Year. Community activities include 4-H and Chamber of Commerce Leadership Sedalia. She has also served on the Sacred Heart Parish Council.