Twin Cities business leader, Gerald Rauenhorst, remembered for philanthropy

Gerald Rauenhorst

Gerald Rauenhorst

Twin Cities Catholic business leader Gerald Rauenhorst died April 24. He was 86.

Born in Olivia, Minn., in 1927, he was one of eight children. He attended St. Thomas College in St. Paul, where he met his wife, Henrietta, a student at the College of St. Catherine. They were married at St. Mary in Bird Island in 1950. Henrietta and Gerald were married for 60 years and had seven children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Henrietta (Hanky) Rauenhorst died in 2010.

Rauenhorst started his business, first called Rauenhorst Construction Co. and then The Opus Group, in the family home in 1953.

Rauenhorst had strong connections to the University of St. Thomas, contributing to the vision of the law school on the Minneapolis campus. The University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business is named for his company. He was a generous benefactor to the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University, with several buildings bearing the Rauenhorst name. The St. Paul Seminary was the recipient of a $2 million gift from the Rauenhorsts.

He was active in many Catholic organizations, including the Papal Foundation, the Minneapolis Suburban Serra Club, Serra International and the Knights of Columbus.

Rauenhorst started a group of family philanthropies — GHR Foundation, The Better Way Foundation, Enkel Foundation, Opus Foundation and Opus Prize Foundation — that invest in closing the achievement gap through Catholic education, offering early childhood education in low-income communities and countries, providing stability for children in families, investing in community revitalization and other causes.

Pope Paul VI named him a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1965, and Pope John Paul II named him a Knight of St. Gregory in 1983.

A funeral Mass was May 6 at Our Lady of Grace in Edina. Memorials are preferred to the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business, Marquette University’s College of Engineering Opus Scholars program, the Mayo Clinic’s Center on Aging, or a charity of the donor’s choice.


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