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September 27, 2002 - Aquinas College has recognized 13 friends and alumni with special awards that included nine inductees into the newly established College and Athletic Halls of Fame. The Awards were presented during the College's Gala Event held Friday night, September 27, 2002 at the College's Wege Student Center.

Peter M. Wege (Wege Foundation), a College benefactor, was one of three inaugural inductees into the College Hall of Fame. Also inducted were Monsignor Arthur F. Bukowski, the College's first president (1940-1969) who died in 1989; and, Jerome C. Byrne, a 1948 Aquinas alumnus and famed California attorney who served as an Aquinas Trustee for 12 years. Byrne died October 2001.

Nancy Erhardt (Grand Rapids), a former College Trustee, received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award for her community service activities. Two alumni were honored with Outstanding Alumni Awards. Patricia Dignan, Ed.D, `63 (Detroit), principal of Renaissance High School in Detroit, was recognized for her long, distinguished service to education. Dr. Mary Meistas, M.D. `71 (Concord, Massachusetts deceased), also was recognized with the Outstanding Alumni Award for her commitment and dedication to the field of medicine and her devotion to her private practice patients. Tragically, Dr. Meistas died in August 2002, just days before she would have learned that she had been selected to receive this award.

The Aquinas Alumni group also presented its Board Member of the Year Award to two members Tony Nolan `66 and Connie Kowalsyk `99 for their service to the College and its alumni association.

The College also launched its Athletic Hall of Fame with six inductees. They include: Lloyd J. Brown `55 (Grand Rapids - deceased), one of the College's most prolific basketball players, scoring a career 1,371 points; John A. Kurzynowski `66 (Springboro, Ohio), a golfer who became the first national champion and All-American in Aquinas history; Pat G. Weiler `78 (Cedar Springs, Michigan), who became the College's first national track champion in 1978, winning the 3000-meter steeplechase in the national championships, among his many other state and national honors;

Paul A. Assenmacher `84 (Alpharetta, Georgia), who pitched the Saints to two NAIA State Championships and played 14 years in Major League Baseball; Kathleen Grzegorski-Johnson `85 (Hudsonville, Michigan), the College's all-time leading scorer in women's basketball with 2,037 points; and, Patti Blaesser Tibaldi `73 (Traverse City, Michigan), a pioneer in women's basketball who coached the Saints squad for 17 years from 1978 to 1995, leading them to three appearances at the NAIA National Women's Basketball Tournament.

The Gala Event, featuring the Halls of Fame Ceremony, was the kick-off event for weekend activities for Homecoming 2002 at Aquinas.