History of RBP Teacher & Student Grants

John J. Ritonya Sr. Memorial Scholarship Classic
The memorial scholarship classic was started in 1977 when the friends of John J. Ritonya Sr. got together and decided to start a memorial by raising scholarship money for South Omaha high school students. The scholarship funds began to grow with the memorial classic inaugural tournament in 1977. The year 1978 brought the second golf tournament and the first annual awards banquet. The banquet was held at Sts. Peter and Paul gym and two students received scholarship awards. Two scholarships were again awarded in 1979 and 1980. The growing popularity of the tournament brought with it increased scholarship funds, enabling us to give three scholarships in 1981. It was decided in 1981 to add the names of two dear loved ones, Clarence A. Buscher and Robert Poehling, thus changing the name to the Ritonya-Buscher-Poehling Memorial Scholarship Classic. In 1984, the scholarship committee increased their grants to a total of thirty two hundred dollars. This included four grants of five hundred dollars each to college students and four grants of three hundred dollars each to students attending the technical institutes. This enabled us to meet the needs of technology oriented students. In 1987, the scholarship committee decided to make 17 grants of $250 available to teachers. This new phase of our program is called the TEACHERS’ CREATIVE GRANTS PROGRAM. This enables teachers to obtain funds not otherwise available to pursue ideas that will help their profession. The committee is proud to add this program to our educational package of aid. In 2000, the above grants were again increased to $1,500 college and $750 vocational scholarships. With this year’s scholarships, a total of $352,000 has been awarded to help needy South Omaha students and give teacher grants in the Metro area.

John Ritonya:

John was a native son of South Omaha whose baseball ability attracted
the attention of major league scouts. He signed to play with the Duluth, MN, team, a St. Louis Cardinals Minor League team. During mid-season, the player's bus was involved in an accident when an ice truck hit them head on, killing six players and seriously injuring the rest of the team.
John survived that day, but his crushed body forever held the scars and
handicaps derived from a broken jaw, broken legs and arms. John
would never play baseball again, but, upon recovery, he opened a service station with his dad and brother.
Despite the handicap of a stiff right arm, John became an avid bowler,
golfer, horseshoe player, softball player, and Hall of Fame shuffle board player. John became a self taught accordion player and composed songs that were a hit at all the parties he attended. John proved everything is attainable if you give the supreme effort.

Clarence Buscher:

Clarence Buscher was the driving force that helped John Roth and Son
become a highly successful independent meat packer. Clarence guided
the company from the 1940?s and the high quality of their meat products became a benchmark in this city. The company flourished under his leadership and he helped continue a business that had been in existence for one hundred years.
Clarence provided employment for many South Omaha families and his
unheralded generosity to needy people helped many persons through troubled times. Clarence won the team championship in our very first tournament and his financial support of this scholarship fund in the beginning was the cornerstone of success for this tournament.

Robert Poehling:
Bob was born and raised in Valley, NE., before becoming a resident of
South Omaha. Bob worked for Wilson & Company and eventually
became one of their top salesmen. Bob's impact on the South Omaha community was felt instantly. The personality of the tall one from Valley created lasting friendships that will never be forgotten. The best way to describe Bob was that he was honest, kind, generous, and had a heart as big as he was. Bob made you feel good just to be around him and if you ever met him you would never forget him. Bob played in, and provided many prizes for, the first four tournaments. Bob helped in the beginning and with his passing we felt he should become a lasting part of the scholarship fund.

Paul Stella South Omaha Boys Club Scholarship:
This is a new addition to the grants being given by the Scholarship
Committee. Paul devoted much of his time working with the boys from
the South Omaha Club. The scholarship winner is chosen from South
Omaha Boys and Girls Club members who show responsibility, leadership, concern for other individuals, and have academic capacity to handle post-high school studies.

Pennie Z. Davis (1917-2002) Memorial Scholarship:

Pennie Z. Davis came to Omaha as a meat inspector for the U.S. Army
during World War II. Following the end of the war, he began working
at Greater Omaha Packing Company. From 1951 to 1986 Pennie Z.
Davis served as president of Greater Omaha Packing. He was able to
expand the company despite a period of major industry consolidation.
Pennie supported many charities in South Omaha in addition to other
philanthropic causes. He was a great believer in the importance of education. His father died when he was in high school and he took upon himself to work his way through the University of Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry.
Educational scholarship are one of the types of contributions that
Pennie Z. Davis believed in. This scholarship was offered from 2003 - 2007.

Thomas McKernan (1937-2005) Memorial Teacher Grant:
This special teacher grant will become a permanent part of our presentations every year in honor of Tom. As a co-founder of the Ritonya Buscher Poehling Scholarship Fund, we honor his memory with his favorite part of our overall program.
Tom was born in Denver, CO in 1937 and lived in Scottsbluff, NE, for a short time where his dad was employed. In 1963, Tom married Mary Alice Buscher and lived in Denver for one year and they moved to Omaha. For many years, he owned Stockyards Meat Market and later started Nu Trend Cleaners. When Tom passed away in 2005, his family indicated that the teacher grant program was his favorite part of the scholarship program.
Tom was co-founder of the scholarship program and in his honor we will award the annual Tom McKernan Grant every year. Mary Alice and Michael McKernan (Tom's son), owners now of Nu Trend, are very large contributors to the success of our yearly fund raising event.

George J. Buglewicz 1923-1997 Memorial Scholarship:
This scholarship is in loving memory of George J. Buglewicz, a lifelong South Omaha resident who served the community both poitically and spiritulally. George graduated from South High School in 1940. He served in World War II and the Korean War. George loved being around people and was involoved in the politacal community. In 1962 he was elected Douglas County Commissioner and followed as Register of Deeds. He was honored for his community service by the United States Democratic Party and the Sons of Italy. He was inducted in the South High Hall of Fame and honored for Government Service in America. He was involved in the Assumption spiritual community as an Ordained Deacon and Choir Director and was very active in Parish activities. George's smile and his personality were his greatest assets.

Special THANK YOU * West Corporation
West Corporation is dedicated to supporting education in communities where the company has a presence. As a key employer in Omaha for 20 years, West corporation is proud to assist South Omaha students through a donation to our Memorial Scholarship Fund.

John L. Hoich Foundation Scholarship:
This grant is donated to South High School by John L. Hoich to a student that has overcome adversity early in life and through hard work and effort was able to regain success.


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