On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 The St. Rita Family gathered in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel for weekly all-school Mass. After Mass a student award ceremony occured, including the presentation of the Herbie Johnson Scholarships -- awarded by the Herbie Johnson Foundation and the Ignite the Spirit Fund.
St. Rita High School Hall-of-Fame member Herbie Johnson '76 was a staunch St. Rita Alumnus, husband to wife Susan and parent to sons Tom '04 (St. Cajetan), Mickey '11 (St. Cajetan) and daughter Laurie. Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert T. Johnson died on November 2‚ 2012‚ at a working fire in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Herbie was extremely entertaining to anyone who met him; he had a great sense of humor and was‚ without a doubt‚ larger than life. Herbie helped people see the funny side of almost every situation. Besides being a wonderful husband to Susan‚ Herbie was a loyal friend‚ brother‚ and father. With his gift of storytelling and genuine concern for everyone‚ he was the glue keeping his friends‚ family‚ and department together. Read more about Herbie Johnson here.
The Captain Herbie Johnson Foundation's mission is to keep the charitable spirit of Herbie Johnson alive by assisting others. The Foundation's main event is a charity golf outing each summer attended by hundreds of Herbie's friends and family members. The next Herbie Johnson Golf Classic is scheduled for June 26, 2017.
Ignite the Spirit Fund is a charity founded in 2003. Since then it has helped over 500 families and donated over $1 million to help ease hardships on Chicago Fire Department families. They run and are involved in several events throughout the year. Ignite the Spirit continues on without much fanfare, embodying the spirit of the Chicago Fire Department slogan: “We are here when you need us.”
The Herbie Johnson Scholarship is given to a St. Rita student based on excellence in and out of the classroom. The Ritaman must display the same great leadership qualities that made Herbie Johnson the leader he was. Herbie's legacy will live on in this scholarship.
This year, three St. Rita students won the Herbie Johnson Scholarship--Seniors Jimmy Otto '17 and P.J. Marth '17. Otto is a graduate of Queen of Martyrs grammar school and Marth is a St. John Fisher grammar school alumnus. Sophomore John Cleary '19 from Christ the King was the third recipient of the Herbie Johnson Scholarship. The scholarships will go directly towards the students' St. Rita tuition.
The St. Rita Family especially thanks Susan & Laurie Johnson for being on hand, along with Captain Herbie Johnson Foundation and Ignite the Spirit Fund representatives, to present the the scholarships to the Ritamen.