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Rick Majerus: Beloved man & coach who loved giving back – so that’s what those who loved him did in his honor

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The late Rick Majerus became a coaching legend who once said he had more money than he could ever spend in a lifetime, but fame and fortunate didn't define the man. Giving back did, which is why he was still giving back and probably smiling last week.

Majerus had an incredible sense of humor. He loved to crack people up -- especially at his expense. The Milwaukee native also had a big heart, so it was fitting that on February 17th, his 67th birthday, Majerus' friends from all walks of life came together to feed the less fortunate at St. Ben's in Milwaukee.

Like her late brother, Jodi Majerus works tirelessly to make a difference in the community while sharing the values instilled in her by her parents, Ray and Alice.

"To follow the rules of Christ, to be good to one another, to feed the homeless and to follow the golden rule," Jodi Majerus said.

On February 17th, the Majerus Family Foundation, with a big assist from some of Majerus' friends, fed 300 people as part of the St. Ben's Community Meal Program.

"It's really nice for them because they're a family amongst themselves, and so it's really like two families coming together and sharing hospitality and friendship and a meal, so it's real special," Br. Bob Roemer, OFM, Capuchin St. Ben's Community Meal said.

Anybody who knew Rick Majerus on any level knew that he absolutely loved to eat -- but he enjoyed watching others eat as well, particularly those less fortunate.

"One Christmas Eve he came over to the house and we had so much leftover food, he said 'we can't let this go to waste. Let's pack it up.' And we did. And we went into the streets of Milwaukee and we gave food and we gave blankets and sweatshirts -- and we just strolled up and down the street until 2, 3 o'clock in the morning. That was Rick," Laurie Panella said.

"When he came to recruit me, he came to Pittsburgh and my mother made this great spread and I swear, that's why he did recruit me," Marc Marotta said.

"You would be at a meal with him and he would just out of nowhere say 'this food's so good. We're all so lucky. Why don't we go find people who aren't so lucky?' And we'd like, all of a sudden just be on the side of the road and like, one out of every three guys would be on the side of the street and say 'I think Rick Majerus just gave me a cheeseburger,'" Craig Karmazin, founder and owner of Good Karma Brands said.

John Dodds remembers the time someone on the playground taunted Rick Majerus about his method of teaching basketball. The next thing you know, there was a rough and tumble game of two-on-two going on.

"At the end, Rick's team barely won. And then he said to the kid 'how's your mom's refrigerator? Is it filled? Here's $50 -- and if you prove you went to the store and bought $50 worth of groceries, I'll give you $50 more,'" Dodds said.

Bill Derfus was a student manager for Majerus at Marquette University.

"I bumped into him 10 years after Marquette when he was coaching at Utah and he pulled me aside and he said 'Bill, I've got to talk to you about something. It's been bothering me.' I said 'Coach, what's up?' And he said 'Did I treat you okay back in the day? I got the Marquette job when I was 33 years old. Did I treat you okay?' He said 'if you ever need anything, please give me a call. Come out to Utah for a game -- whatever you want. If you ever need me, my number's yours,'" Bill Derfus said.

Shannon Allen was Rick Majerus' lawyer. Majerus was once asked to do a TV spot for Special Olympics with former Brewers player Craig Counsell. They wanted to use a child. Allen has a brother who was a Special Olympian, but he was quite a bit older.

"And Rick said he would only do the commercial if my brother Tim Allen was in it, and Rick was close to Tim, so they did this amazing commercial that went throughout the state, and of course it helped raise a lot of money for Special Olympics," Shannon Allen said.

"A demanding and smart and brilliant coach, but super compassionate and warm and a soft spot, and very generous. He was just a great guy and we really miss him a lot," Jack Quinlevan, who coached Majerus at Marquette said.

When he passed away in 2012,'s Gene Wojciechowski wrote: "They say Rick Majerus died of heart failure. They're wrong. The Rick Majerus I knew was all heart."

"Rick's heart said to serve, and Rick's heart said to do what was right, and Rick's heart said to love, and so it's an honor to do this in his name," Jodi Majerus said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about St. Ben's Community Meal.

1 Comment

  • opinion8d

    What a great story and tribute to Rick and his family and friends for all that they continue to do!!!! God Bless you all!

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