Grocery magnate Robert B. Wegman, who with his wife, Peggy, donated millions of dollars to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Rochester, died April 20, 2006. He was 87.
Mr. Wegman was chairman of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., a 70-store supermarket chain operating in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. Renowned philanthropists, the Wegmans have given more money to diocesan schools than have any other donors in the system’s history. Since 1993 alone, the couple has given $42.8 million in support of Rochester inner-city Catholic schools known collectively in the Wegmans’ honor as the WIN Schools — Corpus Christi at Blessed Sacrament, Cathedral at Holy Rosary, St. Andrew, St. Boniface, Holy Family and St. Monica. The WIN Schools currently enroll a total of 1,082 students.
During an April 21 press conference at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Gates, Bishop Matthew H. Clark praised the Wegmans for their contributions to diocesan education. He noted that Mr. Wegman had graduated from St. Thomas the Apostle School in Irondequoit, as well as Aquinas Institute in Rochester, and that he wanted to share the gift of Catholic education with others. The bishop said he believed Mr. Wegman’s concern for others grew out of his Catholic faith.
“We’re deeply grateful for the wonderful support that Bob and Peggy Wegman gave us over the years,” the bishop said. “It is truly a very precious gift that they have offered.”
Sister Elizabeth Meegan, OP, superintendent of diocesan schools, credited the Wegmans for stabilizing inner-city Catholic schools — saving them from the prospect of closing in the 1990s — and for financing the education of hundreds of inner-city students. She added that Mr. Wegman and his wife were personally involved in the WIN schools and were concerned for the individual welfare of each student.
“It is not a matter of making a donation and walking away,” she said. “This has been a gift of themselves and their resources.”
Mr. Wegman also gave $10 million to enable his high-school alma mater, Rochester’s Aquinas Institute, to build a fine arts center and upgrade its athletic facilities. Michael R. Daley, Aquinas president, said Wegman was an involved donor who aided him in strategically planning for the school’s future.
“He was a very generous benefactor, the most generous alum Aquinas has ever had,” Daley said.
Wegman also gave $13 million to Pittsford’s St. John Fisher College to establish the Wegmans School of Pharmacy and the Wegmans School of Nursing. Donald E. Bain, Fisher’s president, also praised Wegman for his positive role in the Rochester area.
“Bob and I shared a passion for history, and I’m convinced that, years from now, when the history of Rochester is tallied, Bob Wegman will rank alongside George Eastman as one of the pillars of the Rochester community,” Bain said in a statement.
Bishop Clark was slated to celebrate a funeral Mass for Mr. Wegman at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, in the Student Life Center at St. John Fisher College. It will be telecast live on R News, cable channel 9 in the Rochester area.
The funeral will be open to the public, but capacity is limited.¬†Plans for a shuttle service will be announced at a later time, and attendees will be asked to arrive at designated parking areas by 9 a.m.¬†For updated information, visit www.wegmans.com and click on “Funeral Information.”