2016 Bishop Kelley Hall of Fame Ceremony
Induction of Teresa and Dennis Caruso, Rick Hornak, and Ray Hornak
Saturday June 18, 2016
Teresa and Dennis Caruso have long been members of the Bishop Kelley Community. For Teresa, the love affair with BK began long before she entered her freshman year at Kelley in 1974. To hear Teresa tell it, “she was born to be a Comet.” For her, BK was, and still is, a God-send. A 1978 graduate of Bishop Kelley, Teresa went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Creighton University. and not long after that, she met a certain law student by the name of Dennis Caruso. So picture this girl from Tulsa meeting this attorney from New Jersey, and despite their language differences……it was love at first sight!
Teresa actually chose Creighton, partly on the strong advice of BK Legend and fellow Hall of Famer Brother Bernardine Kuzminski, FSC, who was one of her mentors. Teresa was a strong student, especially in math, and Brother Bernardine felt that Creighton would be a great place for her.
Teresa returned to Tulsa where she got to spend more time with her fellow BK classmate, Mary Quinn Cooper. Mary found the love of her life in their TU law class and she figured the same could happen for Teresa. Mary and Frank (both BK Hall of Famers), introduced Teresa to their fellow law school classmate, Dennis Caruso and the rest is history. For their first date, Dennis took Teresa to a restaurant that was popular at the time, called WOK 15 on 15th street. Dennis eventually bought that building which now houses his law practice and a few other businesses.
During the early years of their marriage, Dennis and Teresa had two children….Nick who is a 2011 graduate of Bishop Kelley (and celebrating his 5th reunion this weekend) and also a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and Katie, a 2013 Bk graduate and currently working on her bachelor’s degree at High Point University in North Carolina.
Devout members of the Church of Saint Mary, the Carusos have long played very active roles in the Kelley Community. Teresa co-chaired the 2012 Bishop Kelley Auction along with Michelle Hassell. The 2012 Auction still holds the record for the “most income raised at a Live Auction” in the 36 years of Bishop Kelley Auctions. Teresa, Michelle, and their team had great success in spite of having chosen a “cruise” theme that year. Everyone involved with Auction that year was sure that the “cruise theme” was brilliant and blessed. Within months of the “cruise theme being chosen and, prior to the auction, there were THREE international cruise disasters. To make things even crazier, we learned that our Auction was being held on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic!
Teresa has long been involved with BK’s PTO. She currently serves on Bishop Kelley’s Advisory Council and both she and Dennis have been heavily involved with the St. Francis of Assisi Tuition Assistant Trust which generates a great deal of money each year to assist families with financial need to send their children to a Catholic schools around the Diocese of Tulsa including Bishop Kelley.
Dennis has served at Bishop Kelley in a variety of ways. One of his most recent ventures is lacrosse. Having grown up in New Jersey, Dennis played a lot of lacrosse. So when he learned that there was interest in having a club lacrosse team at Bishop Kelley, Dennis pitched in right from the beginning, whether with financial resources or volunteering his time. In this case, lots of time. Dennis has served as a coach of the Comet Club Lacrosse team since its inception. The team pays him a stipend for coaching at the end of each season, and to be honest, everyone who knows Dennis knows he would coach for free. But when he is given his stipend, he signs it over to Bishop Kelley to assist with whatever project is underway or is about to get started. True generosity.
In addition to all this, Dennis has been a faithful and avid supporter of San Miguel, like BK, a Lasallian school. San Miguel serves students in grades 6-8 who are living in poverty. Dennis has served as Board Chair and continues to be a proud supporter of that fine school.
Back to the Auction for a moment. You may or may not know that the Auction is our single largest fundraising event at BK each year. One of the many positives of having it besides the wonderful resources it creates is that it builds community. It builds community, not only at the event. but with the 40 some people that work on the Auction committee for nine months. Teresa truly understands and appreciates the dual purpose of fundraising and friend raising.
Robin Lewis, who heads up Special Events in the BK Advancement Office relayed a funny story to me regarding Teresa’s propensity to save a dollar, especially for BK. Robin says, “Teresa appreciates a bargain and a budget like it’s her job. On one occasion, on behalf of BK, Teresa went to Kohl’s for a kitchen appliance donation that had her paying just over $1 by the time she was finished couponing and negotiating. We think they might have offered to pay her to take it and go.”
Robin also shared a second story on Teresa’s thriftiness, “One on occasion, Teresa met with strangers in the parking lot of Drysdales to buy a palm tree for decorations that she found on Craigslist. Suffice it to say that Teresa is a great steward of BK’s money.”
Even more than being a good steward of fundraising, Teresa is a good steward of relationships. Her concern for others is always the most important aspect to her in chairing an event. Teresa’s goal is for people to be valued and cared for whether they are patrons, donors, cooks, or janitorial staff. Teresa’s leadership style of servant/leader where she serves those that she leads has been a tremendous blessing and Christ-like example to the Bishop Kelley community. It’s my pleasure to induct today into the Bishop Kelley Hall of Fame. Teresa and Dennis Caruso!
Since our inception in 1960, Bishop Kelley has always been affiliated with the Christian Brothers. Nine Christian Brothers have been inducted into the BK Hall of Fame over the years. We’ve had fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and numerous groups of sisters but for the first time in our history two brothers will be inducted together. Ray Hornak and Rick Hornak graduated from BK a single year apart and have been active members of this community since the day they walked on campus.
Ray graduated from Bishop Kelley in 1979, followed closely by his little brother Rick the following year. Rick eventually married his sweetheart, Madeline Giannetti, a 1982 graduate of Bishop Kelley. In fact, Rick and Madeline will be first-time parents at Bishop Kelley, come August as their son, John will be a freshman here, a member of the Class of 2020. Cate will soon follow and the family legacy will continue.
Both Ray and Rick are known for their unparalleled willingness to volunteer for whatever Bishop Kelley needs. Although they graduated from BK 30+ years ago, they never really left the school, and for that, we are truly grateful. Rumor is they even bartended at one of the early Auctions while still in high school!
Kristi Grisaffe, a BK graduate, and BK Hall of Famer who served as the school’s Director of Alumni Relations for 10 years relied heavily on the Hornak Brothers as she organized events like the school’s annual Prassa golf tournament, class reunions, Auction, and Trivia night. During Kristi’s decade-long tenure at BK and for the many years since then, if BK was going to have a successful Trivia Night, the success was due, in large part, to the time, talent, and connections that Rick and Ray have in getting things done.
Kristi wrote about the Hornak brothers, “BK called Rick and Ray with each of these events, every year…..and they always said yes. And they always volunteered to ‘find friends’ to fill in the extra slots. Their help over the years has been so valuable and so important. I count both of them as friends…and I look forward to volunteering alongside both of them throughout the future years! In fact, several times Rick and I have made promises to each other that as long as he’s involved, I’ll be involved.”
Rick and Ray own a lighting company called Hornak Sales and when this campus needs new lighting and lighting fixtures as we transition from old blubs to new energy-efficient lighting, Rick and Ray do everything they can to assist our facilities maintenance staff in its endeavor, all the while saving the school money as we strive to keep operation costs down in order to make BK as affordable as we possibly can.
They are being inducted to the Bishop Kelley Hall of Fame today because they are always there when we need them. They give of something we all have too little of, they give the precious gift of their TIME. And Rick and Ray, give it without counting cost. They are true servants and a great example to us all. Please join me in congratulating on their induction into the Bishop Kelley Hall of Fame, Rick and Ray Hornak.