Sargento exec, School Board president Rhyan dies

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

MARK RHYAN MARK RHYAN PLYMOUTH – The sudden death of Mark Rhyan Christmas Day has left a void in two of the city’s largest institutions – Sargento Foods and the Plymouth School District.

Rhyan, executive vice-president/ chief operations officer of Sargento and president of the Plymouth School District, died at St. Nicholas Hospital after a very brief illness with pancreatic cancer.

A memorial service to celebrate Rhyan’s life and accomplishments is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, at 4 p.m. in the Acuity Auditorium at Plymouth High School.

“This is such a shock,” retired Sargento Chief Executive Officer Lou Gentine said of Rhyan’s death. “I think the fact that everyone including Mark was totally unaware that this killer disease was in his body just made it so much more difficult.”

A native of Milwaukee and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Rhyan came to Plymouth in 1992 when he took a position as director of tax for Sargento Foods.

He was promoted to executive vice-president/chief financial officer in 1997 and executive vicepresident/ chief operating officer in 2000.

“We’re going to miss him a lot but we appreciated the time we had with him when he was here at our company, as an associate and a friend, and the benefits we gained from that relationship,” Gentine stated.

“We’re doing well here at Sargento, coalescing around the fact that Mark was a wonderful spirit here at Sargento. He added signifi- cantly to our company through his leadership and mentorship,” Gentine continued.

In announcing Rhyan’s death, Gentine and current Sargento CEO Louie Gentine said of Rhyan:

“His greatest achievement … is how he has guided the development of his teams and Sargento as a whole. Mark was champion of our corporate culture, and was passionate about ‘doing it right the first time.’ His work and inspiration shaped a generation of men and women to be leaders at Sargento and in our community.”

Rhyan, who was elected to head the School Board immediately after his election in 2008, was remembered for his leadership by school district officials.

“His strong commitment to our school district and his impeccable character modeled for everyone the distinctiveness of an outstanding leader,” Plymouth School Superintendent Carrie Dassow said in a statement released by the district.

“The Plymouth School District has learned a great deal from Mark’s leadership,” Dassow’s statement continued. “We will continue to move forward to provide the children of our community an outstanding education so that each student has the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. This was Mark’s vision for our district.”

Lou Gentine cited Rhyan’s dedication and commitment to both his family and the community.

“When he got involved in something, he gave it his all,” Gentine said.

“He was all about family and friends. I think he had a stack of photos of his family on his desk probably six to seven inches high that he just kept there,” Gentine added.

Rhyan is survived by his wife, Karen, and two children, Corey and Niki.

Gentine also noted that Rhyan was instrumental in his family’s development of The Osthoff resort in Elkhart Lake.

Rhyan served on the board of directors for the Sheboygan Economic Development Corp., US Bank in Sheboygan and on the First Congregational UCC Church Council.

He taught Junior Achievement classes and coached youth athletics.

Rhyan will be succeeded as president of the School Board by long-time board member Tim St. Clair, who was vice-president of the board.

Rhyan’s marks the second death in two weeks of a local elected official who was up for re-election in the April 1 general election.

Rhyan was up for re-election for an area A seat, representing the city of Plymouth, in April.

City of Plymouth Alderperson John Anderson, who represented the 1st Aldermanic District on the city’s northwest side, passed away on Dec. 11.

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