History

 

 

Better Way Foundation works with partners to build a future where child well-being contributes to strong families and communitites.

Born in Olivia, Minnesota, one of eight children and the son of tenant farmers, Gerald began his business career at age six, selling sweet corn on the highway. There, he learned early practical lessons on the necessity of hard work and faith.

As a student at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Gerry invited Henrietta “Hanky” Schmoll, a girl from the College of St. Catherine, to the homecoming Danceā€”a date that launched a lifetime together. The couple was married in 1950 and spent the next six decades raising seven children and living out their shared commitment to Catholic social values.

Three years after they married, Gerry used their $354 in savings to start the business that would become the Opus companies, where he pioneered the design-build approach to construction. The Opus group has grown into a family of commercial real-estate development, construction and design companies headquartered in Minneapolis.

Ever-mindful of the inextricable link between business and community, Gerry and Hanky founded several philanthropic ventures including Sieben Foundation, founded in 1988 and Better Way Foundation (Originally the Alpha Omega Foundation, founded in 1994) which merged in 2014 to become what Better Way Foundation is today.