History & Legacy
Started in 1988 by Gerald (Gerry) A. and Henrietta (Hanky) Rauenhorst, founders of the Opus companies, the Better Way Foundation is focused on building a future where child well-being contributes to strong families and communities.
Born in Olivia, Minn., in 1927, the son of tenant farmers and one of eight children, Gerry began his business career at age six, selling sweet corn at a busy highway intersection near the family farm. Gerry learned early practical lessons on the necessity of hard work and faith, anchoring his life on the words of St. Augustine: “I shall work as if everything depended on me; I shall pray as if everything depended on God.”
As a student at St. Thomas College, Gerry invited Hanky Schmoll, a girl from the College of St. Catherine and a neighboring farming community, to the Tiger Homecoming Dance. That date launched a lifetime together. The couple married in 1950 and spent the next six decades raising seven children, building a business and living out their shared commitment to Catholic social values.
Ever-mindful of the inextricable link between the success of business and the community, just 15 years after launching Opus, Gerry and Hanky started a long tradition of giving back – ensuring the family's philanthropic efforts provided young people with the chance to build a better future.
View coverage on our founders' legacy:
Pioneer Press (April 25, 2014)
The Catholic Spirit (October 18, 2010)