WHEN he was inducted into the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2015, Sam Rinella Jr. was quick to point out that "one of the best things that ever happened to me was coming to Quincy" in 1953 from his hometown of Galesburg.
There is no doubt that Quincy was equally blessed by having Rinella as an active member of the community for more than six decades.
Rinella, who died this week at age 89, was a successful businessman who grew his Anheuser-Busch Inc. distributorship from three employees in 1953 to about 75 by the time he retired in 1998.
As former Quincy Notre Dame High School Principal Ray Heilmann told The Herald-Whig, however, business was not Rinella's "whole world." In fact, perhaps his greatest legacy, along with his wife, Pat, was the devotion to a variety of local causes -- notably Catholic education and those with disabilities.
Specifically, Rinella helped mobilize a group of Quincy business leaders to financially support the establishment of Catholic Boys High School, now Quincy Notre Dame, when it was announced Christian Brothers High School would close after the 1969-70 school year.
Retired Judge Mark Schuering put in perspective those efforts when it was announced Sam and Pat Rinella would receive the 2014 Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools Foundation's Friends of Catholic Education Award for their efforts to foster and strengthen Catholic schools in the community.
"Everyone in the Quincy Catholic schools community is indebted to Sam and Pat for their tireless work on behalf of their schoolchildren," Schuering, a 1971 Catholic Boys graduate, said. "Can you image how many lives have been positively impacted by QND in the years since Sam's involvement kept Catholic secondary education in Quincy?"
In addition, Rinella was instrumental in helping Quincy native and touring PGA professional D.A. Weibring establish the D.A. Weibring/WGEM/ARC Pro-Am in 1979. Rinella continued to help plan and organize the annual golf event during its 25-year run, enabling it to raise significant funding for the Adams County Association for Retarded Citizens.
The ARC, along with Transitions of Western Illinois, had a personal meaning for the Rinellas. The couple's youngest daughter, Jennifer, was severely handicapped and attended the Transitions School, formerly known as the Quincy School for the Handicapped, from age 3 to 21.
Transitions of Western Illinois honored the Rinellas with its Humanitarian Award in 2005, which is given to those who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. Sam Rinella also served on Transitions board of directors for more than 15 years.
Randy McFarland, senior vice president and trust officer at Mercantile Bank, was chairman of the D.A. Weibring/WGEM/ARC Pro-Am for many years and saw up close the impact Sam Rinella had on those around him.
"He'd step forward when he had to and say ‘Why don't we do this? Why don't we make the town better? Why don't we make the schools better,' " McFarland told The Herald-Whig.
So as we celebrate his life and mourn his passing, we should recognize that Sam Rinella worked tirelessly to help make Quincy a better place.