Coach/Teacher Dick Hietpas Honored with 2019 Founders Award


Abby Wittler, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The annual Notre Dame Academy President’s Dinner held at St. Norbert College on May 8 celebrated the contributions of three individuals to the school’s history.

A tradition since 1991, the dinner was hosted by Interim President Sr. Pat Clement.

Every year the current president of Notre Dame has the opportunity to honor the recipients of the Founders Award, Distinguished Alumnni Award and members of NDA’s corporate board.

This year’s recipients included Richard Hietpas (Founders Award), Mary Burich (Distinguished Alumna Award) and Dr. Joel Hein (Distinguished Alumnus Award).

The Founders Award is presented annually to an individual, couple, or organization for longstanding support of Catholic education and Notre Dame Academy,” explained Mr. Geno McKenna, director of Alumni Relations. “Recipients have demonstrated support for Catholic education in Northeast Wisconsin while giving of time, talent, and/or gifts to NDA.”

The Founders Award is the highlight of this dinner and the recipient of this year’s award had a long, successful career in the NDA community.

Richard (Dick) Hietpas began his career in 1963 by teaching math and physical education and coaching at Premontre High School. He even spent his summers doing maintenance at the school when he was not at his cottage on Legend Lake.

He achieved many accomplishments while working at Premontre and continued to strive for excellence when NDA opened. For a few years, he worked as the Vice President of Athletics before returning to the classroom to teach math.

In 2003 he retired from his position but stayed with NDA for one more year as interim principal.  Officially retired, he still substitutes when he has time at NDA.

His teaching accomplishments are not the only part of his career that makes him recognizable; he also had many state championship wins with various sports teams.

Hietpas has four daughters with his wife of 57 years; they have five grandchildren. The entirety of his family has attended parochial schools, and his granddaughter even graduated from NDA.

He now spends his winters in Naples, Florida, summers on Legend Lake, and spring and fall substitute teaching at NDA to stay connected to his roots.

After his daughter introduced him, an emotional Hietpas had the audience bouncing between tears and laughter.  He concluded his remarks by saying, “It’s a great day to be a Cadet and a Triton.”