Mark Rhyan’s priorities were good for all of us

FOR THE LATE MARK RHYAN, family was the most important priority. But that priority became the benefit of every child in the Plymouth School District for the past six years.

Rhyan passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas Day after learning he had pancreatic cancer just a few days earlier. His death leaves a void not only in his family, but also at Sargento Foods, where he was executive vice-president/ chief operations officer, and on the Plymouth School Board, where he served as president for the last six years.

The common thread in all those endeavors was Rhyan’s firm belief in the importance of family. As one of the top executives at Sargento, he was instrumental in continuing to foster the family-like atmosphere that has been the hallmark of the family-owned company and has helped it consistently earn honors as one of the best places to work statewide and nationwide.

It was the importance of family that led Rhyan to first run for the School Board in 2008.

When he ran successfully for re-election in 2011, he summarized his reason for running and again, family was at the forefront.

“The Plymouth School District has been very good for our children, and serving on the Board of Education provides me with the opportunity to give back to the community that has served us so well. I strongly believe in the role public education plays in our society, and I am very proud to be a member of the team that works to further the educational model we have here in Plymouth.”

But Rhyan wasn’t content to just be another member of the School Board.

He brought the same passion and intensity to that role that he brought to his roles as husband, father and Sargento executive, to the benefit of all students and staff in the district.

He was a strong and effective voice for excellence in education in the Plymouth School District and worked hard to ensure that the district offered opportunities for every student to be their best in whatever endeavor they pursued.

One example of that was his leadership in developing the Lakeshore Technical College/

Plymouth Science and Education Center located at the high school.

As leader of the School Board, Rhyan worked with Plymouth and LTC school officials, as well as city and county government leaders and the numerous companies in the private sector to forge a state-ofthe art training center that will help provide a well-trained, educated workforce that Sheboygan County businesses can rely on to fill their needs for years to come.

That was just one example of Rhyan’s leadership and efforts – for which he was recognized with an Educational Leadership Award in 2011.

Rhyan took his role as School Board president seriously, using his position as a bully pulpit to try to educate the public to the need for a strong public education system, to lobby legislators and government leaders on the need to support public education, and to encourage students and staff to give their best to make the Plymouth School District the best it could be.

The packed house in the Acuity auditorium at Plymouth High School last Wednesday for the memorial service for Rhyan demonstrated the wide impact he had on the entire community. And the continuing excellence of the Plymouth School District may well be the best lasting memorial to someone who truly seemed like one of the family to everyone Mark Rhyan touched in his all-too-brief life.

At issue:
Mark Rhyan
Bottom line:
Left a great impact, legacy

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