Community remembers “Dan the Man” through new scholarship

Emma Callaghan and Brady Griebel are inaugural recipients

Dan Petesch was known far and wide as Marquette Catholic School’s “super fan.” His enthusiasm for his former high school and passion for its basketball teams earned him recognition from locals as well as organizers of the state basketball tournament in Des Moines.

Although Dan died in 2020, his school spirit lives on through a new scholarship established in his memory. Dan’s sister, Mary Maher of DeWitt, set up the scholarship through the Community Foundation of Jackson County and the LincolnWay Community Foundation

The Dan Petesch Scholarship for Marquette High School is permanently invested in an endowment fund and will provide annual payouts, forever, to support graduates for generations to come. 

Dan, a 1971 graduate of Marquette High School, was raised on a dairy farm and was no stranger to the value of hard work, community and family. He volunteered with the Springbrook Jaycees, Springbrook and Bellevue Fire Departments and Knights of Columbus. He returned to school as an adult, working as bus driver and groundskeeper for over 20 years. 

The students and faculty lovingly referred to Dan as “Dan The Man.” Even after retirement, he continued to help at the school in whatever capacity he was needed, always prioritizing relationships and service to others. 

The first scholarships in Dan’s honor were awarded in May to Emma Callaghan and Brady Griebel. The Dan Petesch Scholarship supports students who exemplify the skills and abilities required to achieve greatness and exemplify Dan’s personality – school spirit, strong character, optimism, resolve and achievement in academics and volunteerism. 

“This scholarship recognizes my enthusiasm and passion for everyday activities,” says Callaghan. “It shows me that our community sees the good in people.” She will study at the University of Wisconsin — Platteville this fall and is looking forward to exploring her interests to find her calling. 

“I am beyond thankful for this recognition of my character, achievements, resolve and hope for success. I will continue to live out the pillars of this scholarship,” she says. “Dan was someone who could always put a smile on someone's face, and I am truly grateful to be considered as following in his acts.”

Brady Griebel of Bellevue High School also received the scholarship. Brady plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa in the fall to study physical education, coaching and health, and will compete in track and cross country. “I’m grateful to Dan’s family for the opportunity the scholarship provides,” he says. “It makes me feel good. I was raised to be humble and kind, and I always want to keep that throughout my life.”

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