October 18, 2021: St. Thomas More High School will induct seven alumni – Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Pedro Colón (TM ’86), retired priest Fr. Tom Suriano (SF ’56), Emerald City Catering owner Steve Ozbolt (TM ’86), former Johnson Insurance president Michael Derdzinski (PN ’72), retired St. Thomas More teachers Regina “Jeanne” Cissne and Joe Zolecki (DB ’57), and the late Jennifer Ramus (TM ’99) – into its Alumni Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 13. Click here to register for the induction!
“From award-winning actors to corporate executives to legendary coaches, the St. Thomas More Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes distinguished individuals from all walks of life,” St. Thomas More Development and Alumni Director Dan Steffes (TM ’03) said. “This year’s inductees embody the mission of our school and the qualities of our patron saint, St. Thomas More. It is an honor to induct them into our Hall of Fame.”
In 2010, The Honorable Pedro Colón (TM ’86) was appointed Wisconsin Circuit Court judge for Milwaukee County, and he was elected to a full term in 2011 and re-elected in 2017. He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1998, becoming the first Latino to serve in either house of the Wisconsin Legislature. His constituents re-elected him five times, and he served Milwaukee’s south side as Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance and the Judiciary and Ethics Committee. Judge Colón is a former board member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and has also served on the boards of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, United Community Center, Milwaukee Bar Association, American Constitution Society, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Center for Independence, and Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.
Fr. Tom Suriano (SF ’56) is a retired Archdiocese of Milwaukee priest, well-known Scripture scholar, and teacher who has also spent time ministering to inmates at the Waukesha County Jail. He began his ministry in 1964 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Kenosha and would later earn his biblical degree from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. After returning to Wisconsin, he taught at St. Francis de Sales Major Seminary before moving on to St. Leo Parish in 1981, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in 1992, and, in 2003, to St. Patrick Parish in Whitewater, where he served until his retirement in 2007. Fr. Tom received the Vatican II Award for Service in the Priesthood from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2014, and he continues to serve as a weekend assisting priest at several parishes.
The owner of Emerald City Catering in Milwaukee, Steve Ozbolt (TM ’86) has always made it his priority to take care of those who need it most. A true servant leader, Ozbolt offers a “Pay As You May” meal program where diners pay what they can afford for a buffet or meal, even taking care of those who cannot pay at all. He has worked with Milwaukee Street Angels, an organization that serves the homeless. Ozbolt also spreads positive thoughts with his chalkboard at Emerald City – sharing his daily “pOZitivity” messages.
A member of the final Pio Nono class, Michael Derdzinski (PN ’72) is the former President at Johnson Insurance and a dedicated community volunteer. Derdzinski’s career includes almost 40 years in the insurance industry with executive roles at Family Health Systems, UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and Johnson Insurance. He served in leadership roles in the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters and the Insurance Commissioner’s Health and Life Advisory Council. Derdzinski also has devoted countless hours to nonprofit organizations, including Boy Scouts, St. Joseph Pastoral Council and Athletic Association, United Way, Next Act Theater, Friends of the Milwaukee Public Museum, Ronald McDonald House, and St. Thomas More High School.
A two-time cancer survivor, Regina “Jeanne” Cissne spent 25 years teaching and sharing her love of Irish culture with St. Thomas More students. Her passion for teaching has been inspiring, with several former students crediting her as the reason they decided to go into education. She has also been instrumental in the planning and carrying out of Irish Fest for over 30 years. As the festival’s hotel and hospitality coordinator, she has worked with the many famous international artists who perform each year.
Joe Zolecki (DB ’57) is a former teacher, coach, and administrator at Pio Nono and Thomas More. In his more than 30 years coaching baseball, his teams won eight conference championships and two WISAA State championships. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1994, and the St. Thomas More baseball field is named in his honor. Zolecki also spent more than 25 years coaching both football and basketball. His no-nonsense approach to education and athletics earned him the respect of decades of Pio Nono and Thomas More students and athletes, and he was also a role model to fellow teachers.
A bright and friendly student-athlete only six months from graduation, the late Jennifer Ramus (TM ’99) was killed by a drunk driver on December 23, 1998. To honor her memory, the Jennifer Ramus Endowed Scholarship Fund, or the Jennie Fund, was established to provide scholarships to students who participate in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), a club that promotes positive decision-making. The fund has raised more than $420,000 and awarded scholarships to over 350 students, and SADD continues to keep Jennie’s memory alive with its efforts to encourage safe, smart decision-making for all.
“While the realms of their accomplishments and service vary, each of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees has made a profound impact on the St. Thomas More family and the community as a whole,” St. Thomas More president John Hoch (TM ’87) said. “We hope that our inductees’ inspirational stories will motivate current and future St. Thomas More students to set ambitious goals and remain determined when confronting life’s obstacles.”