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Jeanette Rohrbach

Jeanette and Roger Rohrbach

Jeanette and Roger Rohrbach

It’s not what you know…It’s what you do with what you know

The end result of a good education is less about how much a person knows, and more about how much a person understands.

Understanding that a good education is all-important in life, and wanting to be sure that young people in her childhood neighborhood had the opportunity to have that kind of education, Jeanette Rohrbach endowed a scholarship in memory of her parents within the Diocese’s Sharing in Faith™ - Our Catholic Legacy Foundation, for needy children at St. Patrick School in Canonsburg.

“Jeanette made this gift by transferring funds directly from her Traditional IRA,” says Deacon Jack Miller, director of development and public policy for the Diocese. “By making the gift that way, all of her gift, including her annual minimum required distribution, avoided federal income tax. It was a smart move.”  

“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Dr. Tony Merante, principal at St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School. “The William W. and Mary C. Weishner Endowed Scholarship Fund assures that $1,000 in aid will forever be available annually for our needy students…and Jeanette even included an additional $1,000 to be used now since it takes a year of investment returns to generate the distribution.”

“My parents didn’t go to high school,” says Jeanette.  “When my mother was a teenager, she worked in a store. I remember that dad would come home covered in coal dust after working at Muse Mine.  They sacrificed quite a bit to provide for their three children. This scholarship honors them in a way they would have appreciated.”

Jeanette didn’t attend St. Patrick School, but she wants to give needy children an opportunity to acquire an education that not only educates their mind but also creates a love and understanding of the Catholic Church. Her parents loved St Patrick's Church. Jeanette hopes that students will find a connection to the Church and that the Church will be a part of their entire lives.

“My father was active at St. Pats,” says Jeanette.  “When Muse Mine closed in the early fifties, I remember parishioners bringing food to our home. These weren’t rich people; yet they were willing to give what they had to help us and others in need. They and my parents are the reason I wanted to give something back to that faith community.”

More than a half-century ago, Jeanette left Canonsburg, went to college in Ohio, and married Roger Rohrbach. From Ohio they moved to Raleigh, NC over 40 years ago. In Raleigh, Jeanette was a full-time mother to their 3 children.

In addition to Jeanette's scholarship with the Diocese, her mother, Mary, created the William W. Weishner, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at the College of Steubenville, now Franciscan University of Steubenville. “It was in memory of my brother Bill who was killed in a car accident when he was a junior in 1958,” says Jeanette. “While it gave my mom great consolation that Bill died after attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion, she still missed him terribly and the scholarship gave her a sense of closure and comfort.”

In 1993, Jeanette’s husband Roger also established a need-based scholarship in the College of Agriculture at the Ohio State University in honor of his parents. It assists enrolled students, in good standing, who could demonstrate the longest record of attendance, including their siblings, among currently enrolled students.

Roger and his three brothers grew up on a farm in Ohio and went on to attend OSU, ultimately earning four Bachelor of Science degrees, two masters of science degrees and three doctorates. There was one or more of the Rohrbach brothers at OSU for 20 consecutive years, for a total of 24 years of attendance.

“Knowing how financially difficult it was for my parents who were farmers,” Roger says, “I wanted to do something to make college more affordable for children from other larger families.  I’m proud to say that scholarship has now been awarded to needy students in each of the last 23 consecutive years.”

I guess one shouldn’t be surprised that two people with advanced degrees and teaching vocations recognize the importance of a quality education. What may be surprising is the extent to which Jeanette and Roger have dedicated their resources to promote it.

 “We don’t have a lot, but what we do have is a gift from God,” says Jeanette. “We just make an effort to find ways to give as much of it back as possible.”

In the end, isn’t understanding that virtue the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

For information on how you can make cost-effective gifts like Jeanette to support Catholic education, please contact Deacon Jack Miller at jmiller@diopitt.org or 412-456-3000, ext. 3262.

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