Addressing the students during The Thomas and Agnes Heenan Chapel Mezzanine Dedication recently, John Heenan, who along with his wife Bernadette, donated the money to build a mezzanine and renovate the Clara Schrenk Memorial Chapel, said they were not investing in a mezzanine but in them.
“I’ve been told that the money will allow Williamson to increase the number of young men who enter here so you should understand that our investment wasn’t in a mezzanine, that’s just stuff, it was an investment in you and all of the young men who will enroll here in the future to learn a trade and become ‘Williamson Men’ with skills, character, and a productive future.
“I’m asking you to always be faithful to the lessons you will learn in this chapel and try to live them throughout your life.”
Heenan added that the mezzanine was named after his parents, not to honor them, but because his parents would be pleased “to see students in the chapel learning a useful trade and also having good, strong Christian values reinforced here.”
He added that his parents did not have a lot of money, but gave each of their nine children a solid Christian foundation coupled with a strong work ethic. “I think they would be proud of what we are doing here today. We are confident we made a good, smart investment.”
Following his remarks, President Michael Rounds presented him with a glass frame with a photograph of the bronze plaque with the name of the mezzanine and said this photograph will be replaced in the future with a photograph of the ribbon cutting.
Then Bernadette Heenan said, “I am so impressed looking into the audience. This is truly a class act. I thank you for everything you are and what you are pursuing and everything you will be giving back in the future.”
In his welcoming remarks, Rounds said “Faith is one of our five core values and has always been a critical part of Williamson. Isaiah Williamson stipulated in his deed of trust that he wanted spiritual values to be a part of the daily schedule. Our daily chapel is one of the things that make Williamson unique. Over the years, many lives were transformed in this chapel.”
He said the chapel is basically the same as it was when the school opened, but it has gone through some renovations over the years.
“A major renovation was in 2001. At that time, the seats were worn out and uncomfortable, the roof was leaking, some ceiling tiles were missing, and it was uncomfortably hot.
“The renovation put in padded seats, better lighting, an AV system, a new stage, and air conditioning. This renovation was made possible by the generosity of the Howley Foundation, the Stewart Huston Charitable Trust, the late Stanton LeFever 3W9, and our trustee John Stuckey. The late Mickey Schrenk 4W9 and his brother David Schrenk 5W4 gave so generously that the chapel was named the Clara Schrenk Memorial Chapel in honor of their mother. I want to thank Dave and Mickey Schrenk’s daughter Bonnie Stellwagon, for their generosity and for being here with us today.
“Today, we gather together to celebrate another improvement to the chapel and to thank the people who gave it to us. John and Bernadette Heenan are people of faith who recognize the important role the chapel plays in the lives of our students. They also agree it is important to increase student enrollment and decided to make a very generous gift to Williamson to make this mezzanine possible. They chose to name it the Thomas and Agnes Heenan Chapel Mezzanine after John’s parents.”
He added that the mezzanine is important because of plans to increase student enrollment. The Strine Dormitory, built through the generosity of William and Judith Strine, provided rooms for an additional 23 students to be enrolled, allowing 124 students to begin fall semester 2022, the largest freshman class in school history. “If we bring in 124 students next year and the year after that, we will run out of beds. So, to get ready for that, we awarded a contract to break ground for a triple dormitory that will house 72 additional students. That’s why this mezzanine is so important.
“A few years ago, the size of the dining room was doubled through a generous donation by Lee Rowan, wife of our late benefactor Hank Rowan. And, thanks to John and Bernadette Heenan, another piece of the plan is complete with a chapel that can now accommodate the increasing student enrollment, allowing seating for 375. We thank you John and Bernadette for your generosity. We are forever in your debt.”
Board chairman William Bonenberger 7W9, in his introduction of the donors, said “John and Bernadette Heenan have made a lifetime of giving their time, talent, and treasure to lift up the boy and woman next to them, much as Mr. Williamson said.
“They were first introduced to Williamson and our unique mission by two other important members of the Williamson family, Ginny and Manning Smith. Ginny is the daughter of Henry Rowan, who in 2008 gave the transformational gift that basically is the reason Williamson is still here. Manning is her husband.
“After learning of our core values and understanding the need to not just educate young men in the trades, but to instill leadership and character development in our educational philosophy they were hooked and asking how can we help.”
They began helping by joining the Legacy Society, whose members donated $500,000 or more to endow a scholarship in perpetuity. Their scholarship is named the John and Heenan Family Scholar. “Their funding allowed for the renovation of the chapel. The investment they made is in the students here and each student who will come in the future. They definitely believe our country needs more Williamson Men, more tradesmen, and for that reason they invested in all of you.
John Heenan, a businessman with over 30 years experience, is the managing partner and chair of Environsafe Services of Ohio. He also is the founder and CEO of Fairlane Management Corp., in Willow Grove, and founder and CEO of Ten November Management, in Delaware.
A Marine Corps veteran, he also served several years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He is a member of American Legion Post 440 and is a founding member of a Patriot Detachment. John and Bernadette are the founders of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, giving scholarships to the children of Marines who wish to pursue a trade. He is a recipient of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation’s USMC Semper Fidelis Award and is the ninth honoree recognized by the foundation with the prestigious Commandant’s Award for his support of their mission. In 2016, the foundation recognized John and Bernadette with the Semper Fidelis Award.
Very recently, John hosted a Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation gala and personally presented President Rounds with the Eagle, Globe & Anchor Award.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Drexel University, finishing first in his class at the business school, and earned an MBA in multinational finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
He is vice chair of the board of directors of TechForce Foundation, secretary of the board of the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, treasurer of “Our Community Salutes Bux-Mont LLC,” and is the former director of Medal of Honor Grove. He is a board member of the Guardians of the National Cemetery at Washington Crossing and has been a rifleman in the honor guard since 2010. He recently got several of our masonry students to help construct a base for a statue of George Washington at the cemetery.
John and Bernadette are honorary board members of the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument, Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, and the Society of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick.
Bernadette is vice president of the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House, an organization that helps veterans in need find housing and a job, and executive director of the Miracle League of Northampton Township, an organization that provides education and social development through high quality recreational facilities and programs for individuals with special needs and their families.
Following the dedication, the Heenans and Rounds cut a ribbon officially opening the Thomas and Agnes Chapel Mezzanine.
Mark Specht 7W7, chaplain, opened the dedication with the invocation and closed it with the benediction. The Artisans led the audience in the singing of the alma mater. Sean Howat, assistant chaplain, did the scripture reading.