ST Paper contributes $100K for athletic fields

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OFHS grad adds $50K to honor former teacher
By: 

Anne Renel Times Herald Correspondent

The Oconto Falls School District has received $150,000 in donations to be applied to the new athletic field project. ST Paper will contribute $100,000 and Jeff and Cecelia Jensen $50,000, to bolster the $1.2 million project.

“We’ve taken part in a number of donations in the Oconto Falls community over the last three years or so,” said Sahil Tak, vice president of ST Paper. “We’re very thankful to Oconto Falls for what it’s done for the mill.”

ST Paper has operated the mill in Oconto Falls since 2007, and involvement in community efforts is a priority for the manufacturer.

“We like to touch all parts of the community. Helping kids with this support is helping the community. Kids are important, obviously, they’re the ones leading us into the future,” Tak said.

In the past, ST Paper has offered financial support to the school district in other ways, including scholarships for seniors and the purchase of a 3D printer. The athletic complex is more visible, and details of naming rights are under consideration by the school district.

“We want ST Paper (employees) to feel proud we’re giving back to the community,” Tak said.

Jerry Moynihan, high school athletic director and project manager for the athletic stadium, approached ST Paper officials, explaining the time line and the constraints of the project that voters approved in an August referendum.

ST Paper designates a certain amount toward donations each quarter. The school district received $50,000 last week from last quarter’s earnings and will received another $50,000 in June.

Jensens also contribute

Jeff and Cecelia Jensen, who live west of Denver in Evergreen, Colorado, donated $50,000 in recognition of Daniel Rider who coached football and taught mathematics at Oconto Falls High School from 1974 to 1979. Cecelia is a sister of Moynihan and a 1980 graduate of Oconto Falls High School.

Jensen said she and her husband approached Moynihan to offer the donation, and Rider immediately came to mind as someone to recognize.

“I think of him often,” said Jensen, who babysat for Rider’s children.

She described him as a mentor who helped her develop a philosophy of life.

“In terms of priorities, he found that balance between work and family, and that was always a priority for him. And us,” she said.

She said her association with Rider caused her to be “more thoughtful in some of the things we do” and strive to live life to the fullest.

Teacher and coach

Rider graduated from Oconto Falls in 1966 and attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he played football. A year before graduating college in 1971, he married Oconto Falls native Marianne Eslien. After college, he took a position in Zion, Illinois, where he taught and also coached football.

In 1974, the Riders moved to Oconto Falls where Dan accepted a position teaching math and coaching football. He left the Oconto Falls School District in 1979, exited the teaching profession and moved with his family back to Illinois where he continued to coach in Pop Warner football programs and soccer programs.

He passed away from cancer at the age of 47 in 1995.

Marianne, who lives on the west side of Chicago in Woodridge, Illinois, said she is overwhelmed with the Jensen’s gesture.

“The idea that after all these years that Dan meant so much to someone …” she said. “He loved football. He loved kids.”

Marianne said football was always his love.

“In Dan’s life, God came first, then our relationship and the children. Unless it was in the fall, because then it was football,” she said.

She said he used coaching as a means to help kids learn about life.

“He had this wonderful attitude. You win some, you lose some, so you learn from that and move on,” she said.

She said Dan supported the underdogs, and he cared about people.

“He liked you for who you were. He was just a wonderful, wonderful feeling man. A sensitive guy,” she said.

“He was a good man. He passed away too young,” Jensen said. “He was quite a role model and mentor while teaching. He really loved kids and wanted to see them go far.”