John Henry Richert died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday, April 13, at age 78, of apparent heart failure. John was born in Berwyn, Illinois on March 12, 1941, but grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where he graduated from West High School in 1959. He went on to earn a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He married Penny Putnam, with whom he spent over 51 years, on June 10, 1967, at Blessed Sacrament Church. Penny and John were blessed with two daughters, Susan and Annie, and a large, extended family.
John was a passionate, life-long educator and leader. He started his career as a teacher and coach in Blair, Wisconsin and eventually moved into higher education as a professor and dean of education. A born leader with visionary ideas, John eventually stepped into the role of President at the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska. He later served as President of Mundelein College in Chicago, Illinois before moving his family back to Madison and starting his own fundraising and executive search companies.
Never one to retire, John went back to positions in higher education, most recently serving in interim administrative roles at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
John loved his work and will be remembered as a mentor and inspiration to many. His door was always open and advice was given freely. Still, family was always his number one priority. John lavishly celebrated holidays, was a presence at family gatherings, and attended all his daughters' sporting and educational events. When it came time for grandchildren, "Poppy" made sure to create memories they will recount for a lifetime. He loved deeply, laughed often (had an impish sense of humor), and made quite an impact everywhere he went. John did everything in a big way - big dogs, big "toys", big gifts, big ideas. He was never afraid to stand his ground and making decisions that he believed were right. He will be deeply missed by all who know him.
He is survived by his wife Penny, daughters Susan (Dan) Corwith and Annie (Sam) Ballweg; grandchildren Michael, Brooke, and Brandon Ballweg; sister Lynn Schultz; sisters-in-law Patty Chryst and Trishy Putnam; and many cousins, nieces and nephews: Becky (Emil) Harmsen, Carrie (Steve) Shade, Rick Chryst, Geep (Shelley) Chryst, Cathy (Bob) Greco, Paul (Robin) Chryst, Dolly (Dave) Strauser, Bill (Emily) Putnam, Rachel (Ron) Olsen, and many great-nieces and nephews.
John was preceded in death by his parents, aunt Marlys Richert and grandmother, Elsie Richert, who raised him; brothers-in-law George Chryst, Doc Schultz, and Bill Putnam; and his father- and mother-in-law, Bill and Betty Putnam.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in the name of John Richert to either of the following: Our Lady Queen of Peace School (418 Holly Avenue, Madison, WI 53711) or Catholic Multicultural Center (Madison) (1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713).
John's family would like to thank Msgr. Fiedler; Madison police officers, Cindy and Nora; and the Madison Fire Department for their support and kindness.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 401 S. Owen Drive, Madison, on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, at 12 Noon, with Monsignor Kenneth J. Fiedler presiding. A visitation will be held at church on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Burial will be in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. A reception will follow.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
To Penny, Susan, and Annie. John was our coach, mentor, and- most importantly- our friend. He always believed in us!
Penny and family. Please know of our prayers and thought for you on the death of John. I have been blessed to know him for many years, as well as your wonderful family. You will all be in our intentions at Mass and during the celebrations this Holy Week. May you know the consolation of Christ and the healing love of the Father. May he rest in Peace. God bless you all. Msgr James Gunn, St John/St Mary of the Lake, Waunakee.
As the longest tenured employee of Wisconsin Executive Search, I can say that John was a unique boss! Bigger then life personality and never a dull moment to work for. Will always consider him a friend and very much enjoyed working for him. Mike Eisele
Lots of history with this family. Grateful that my part-time job as security man for the Badger football team gave me the opportunity to chat with John on many occasions . My sympathies..
To John’s family, I’m so sorry to hear of John’s passing. I worked closely with John for five years when I was the bookkeeper at St. Maria Goretti Parish and he worked with us to raise funds for an addition to our school and parish center. John was a good man to work with . . . kind and respectful of the church bookkeeper who at times felt she was in over her head! Fundraising is never an easy task but I just always found him to be kind, honest and forth-coming. My deepest sympathy to all of you as you mourn the loss of your husband and father.
Penny, Susan, Annie and family,
So sorry to hear of the passing of John. We got only a glimpse of him during his time here at Franciscan U, but he left a lifelong impression on those of us he lead. All of us are heartbroken for the whole Richert Family. We are so very blessed to have spent the short time with him that we did, and our prayers go out for him now, and for his loving family who grieve his loss. Sincere condolences from the entire Franciscan U family. Sincerely, Tim Delaney
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