2018 Laker Legends Scholarship Gala Honorees

Distinguished Alumni for Career — Dr. Joseph Michael Boesch ‘78



Distinguished Alumni Award for Career: This award recognizes an outstanding alumnus who has achieved a high level of success in his or her career while being generous in support of Mercyhurst Preparatory School.

After high school, Joe attended Central Florida Community College for a year, but an elbow injury as catcher on the college baseball team abruptly ended his sports career.  He changed courses and earned a degree in chemistry from Edinboro University in 1982 and then decided to become a dentist.

Joe began practicing dentistry in 1987 after earning a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Georgetown University School of Dentistry, graduating magna cum laude.  He sees his career as a calling to serve, rather than just a job, and takes pride in the fact that his work is a unique combination of art and science.

It’s vitally important to Joe to stay current in dental education. He easily accumulates about 50 hours of continuing education every year and belongs to numerous professional dental organizations, giving him an additional opportunity to learn the latest trends in science and therapy.

He is a certified Invisalign (clear aligners) provider and also completed advanced education programs on jaw joint function at Dawson Academy in Florida.  In his desire to specifically study jaw work, Joe completed Piper I Comprehensive TMJ Science in 2004, Piper II Advanced TMJ Science in 2007, and Piper Joint Based Occlusion in 2008 at the prestigious Piper Center in the Sunshine State.

Joe takes his business seriously and feels it is very important to make his patients feel comfortable.  Most of us are not particularly fond of visiting the dentist, but Joe’s patients in Maryland give him high praise.  One said, “It (his visit) reminds me of the ‘old days’ when there was an emphasis on personalized care versus the warehouse approach that often is the case in larger practices.”

Joe gives some of the credit of his success to his MPS education.  He stated, “The fellowship and comradery I experienced at MPS has never left and continues to influence my thoughts, actions, and emotions.  It was the best and most important four years of my life.  I believe Mercyhurst was a gift from God and I thank Him for giving me the opportunity to be able to spend my high school years in such an amazing institution.  It has truly been a major shaping factor of who I am.”

Distinguished Alumni Award for Service – Sr. Joan McCabe, RSM ’51

Health Services Coordinator – Erie Care Center

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas New York Pennsylvania West Community


Distinguished Alumni Award for Service: This award recognizes exceptional volunteer service and support to Mercyhurst Preparatory School and the Erie community.

Sister Joan was born into an Irish-German family and was the third eldest of four sisters and one brother. She relished the value of learning and earned a BS in education from Mercyhurst University, an MA in social science from Ohio University and a second MA in religious education and a nursing degree from Gannon University.  Sr. Joan also challenged the gerontology exam as a certified gerontology nurse.  She currently serves on the Mercy Network on Aging and the Mercy Center for Women boards and previously served on the Alumni Board of Governors.

Her life path carried her in various directions, but all favored helping people and serving her community. In addition to teaching, she traveled with students and applied for grants. She served as a parish assistant, a camp counselor for the blind, and a mission volunteer in Yucatán, Mexico.

As a Religious Sister of Mercy, Joan has ministered for sixty-six years in church, educational institutions and healthcare. She continues her healthcare ministry today as the nurse administrator in the Mercy Care Center in Erie. She is a gentle spirit dedicated to team building, and her priority is to empower each member of the team. Having a dry sense of humor, she is often taken more seriously than she really is. Her hallmark is healthcare, and she enjoys sharing newly discovered knowledge.

Reflecting on her past, Sr. Joan stated, “I followed the path of my two older sisters and my mother, who attended Mercyhurst Seminary.  Because of the untimely death of my parents during my high school years, I received the blessings of understanding, direction and a place to stay while in school from the Sisters of Mercy.  Being supported by the Mercy community certainly led me to discern a vocation to Mercy as well, and I chose to embrace the mission and ministry of the Mercy Sisters.

“The impact of the Mercy community has been a significant gift not only for me but within the local civic community. I have readily grasped my opportunities for learning and have continued my educational pursuits that have come with the dedication of the sisters to education. Looking back, I realize that my life may have been altogether different if the sisters had not reached out to me and my family at our time of great loss.

“Being true to Mother McAuley’s goals will enable MPS to continue to carry the Mercy charism well into the future through education, Houses of Mercy and the Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns.”

Alumni President’s Award – Ken Regenor ’81

President of Materials Handling Enterprises, Inc. Erie, Pennsylvania


Alumni President’s Award: The nominees for this award, chosen by the Alumni Association President, should be individuals who have exhibited longtime dedication and unfailing support to Mercyhurst Preparatory School, its faculty, and its students.

After graduating from Mercyhurst Prep, Ken attended Gannon University and began a very successful career in sales. In addition to his impressive career, Ken has been a volunteer coach for youth wrestling for over 20 years. He helped to start the program at the Boys and Girls Club in Erie and coached there for 10 years. He is currently one of the coaches for the Diocese of Erie youth wrestling program.

He received the Boys and Girls Club John L. Robinson Humanitarian Award for Service to the Youth of Erie. He also served on the MPS Alumni Board for many years.

Speaking of his MPS education, Ken said, “I truly enjoyed my time as an MPS student. I came from St Luke’s School with many of my classmates. I have known most of them since I was eight years old, and many of us are still good friends to this day.

“At the time I was at MPS, I realized the sacrifice my parents made to send me and my three siblings to Catholic schools. My father always worked two jobs in the early years, and my mother had to go to work to help out.

“My wife Debbie and I made the commitment to Catholic education an important part of our family. Our daughter Grace started in the Our Lady’s Christion School preschool program as a three year old. After graduating OLC, Grace entered MPS and is now a sophomore. Our son Max is currently in the sixth grade at St. Jude School. With tuition costs increasing, it has been a struggle at times, but we wouldn’t change anything about the education they are receiving.

“One of my fondest memories at Mercyhurst Prep was my interaction with Sister Bertha Michalik, RSM. At that time, she was in charge of the bookstore, which was a small room across from the library. I was on the wrestling team, so during the season I didn’t eat lunch. I would relieve Sister so she could take a break. She would ‘pay me’ in Luden’s Lemon Cough drops. She was like a grandmother to me, a truly great person with a sense of humor.”

Laker Legend Sports Award – Bill Bengel

Retired coach, teacher, athletic director and assistant principal


Laker Legend Sports Award: This award is presented by the Mercyhurst Preparatory School administration to an individual or team who, along with achieving excellence in their chosen sport(s), embodies the true spirit of sportsmanship. This individual or team exhibits the Mark of Pride and Spirit, brought honor to their school as a Laker, and continues to do so in their adult life beyond Mercyhurst Prep.

As a grade school student at Sacred Heart School, Bill played on the basketball team. Unfortunately, he became asthmatic and could no longer participate. Circumstances in his life led him back to his love for basketball, and teams of students became the beneficiaries of his talents for coaching this sport.

Bill earned a BA in sociology from Gannon University and a Master of Education in social studies from Penn State. He began his teaching career at Sacred Heart School, where he coached basketball, cross-country and assisted as the football coach. In 1979, he was hired by Sr. Maura Smith, RSM to teach social studies and coach girls basketball at MPS. If you were a parent, student or employee at Mercyhurst Prep sometime in the last four decades, chances are you knew and respected Mr. Bill Bengel as a teacher, athletic director, assistant principal, friend, or any combination of the four.

During his tenure, he led the girls basketball teams to a 303-168 record over 17 seasons. During that time, the Lakers won 5 Metro League championships, 7 District 10 championships, and 2 PIAA AAA championships: one in 1986 with a 30-1 overall record, and the second in 1991 with a 29—2 overall record. The 1986 Laker team has the distinguished honor of being Erie’s first girls PIAA basketball championship team!

In addition to his stellar basketball coaching years, Bill had the honor of starting and coaching the MPS cross-country team.

The accolades of this outstanding coach are numerous. In 1991 Bill was named the Hector DiTullio Coach of the Year. He also co-coached in the first Pittsburgh Girls Roundball Classic and received a District 10 Recognition Award for the 1991 State Championship.

He was recognized by the National Association of Women’s Basketball Coaches for 300 career victories and honored at the Erie Women in Sports Banquet for his Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sports. He was named to the Erie Times-News Best of the Century List of Top Ten Coaches of Female Teams (second place). Bill was inducted into the Metro Erie Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. He is a member of the National Association of Women’s Basketball Coaches and represented the Erie Metro League on the District 10 committee for 10 years.

Bill and wife Jill have three sons, who are all MPS graduates: Matt ’98, Josh ’00 and Eric ’00. Bill retired from MPS in 2010, but his acquaintances are always delighted when he returns to the hardwoods for a visit.

Laker Legend Philanthropy Award – MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP


Laker Legend Philanthropy Award: This award is presented by Mercyhurst Preparatory School administration to a person, family or business representing the true spirit of philanthropy in their support of the MPS vision and the Mercy charism to the benefit of our students and community.

MIJB is a true friend to Mercyhurst Prep. The generosity of this firm and its attorneys and staff has positively impacted every aspect of Mercyhurst Prep and student life. That generosity extends to board service and leadership, professional advice, and financial support, most notably through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, providing scholarships for students who meet financial guidelines.

Thanks to MIJB, dozens of current and former students who may not have had the opportunity can now proudly say they are Lakers. At a time when many parents and students are struggling with financial commitments, the attorneys at MacDonald Illig feel that it is critical to continue investing in our children and the future of our community.

Since its inception more than a century ago, MacDonald Illig has remained committed to a core value of community service and involvement. They regularly serve in leadership roles in the region’s charitable and civic organizations. The firm is highly visible in the legal community, endeavoring to raise the bar for legal services in our region through pro bono work and Bar Association involvement. There are currently 40 attorneys at MacDonald Illig.

Rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell and recognized as a Best Law Firm by U.S. News and World Report for several years, MacDonald Illig has a long history of providing legal services to the leading non-profit organizations, businesses and financial institutions in Erie County and the surrounding areas. Over the years, a number of MacDonald Illig attorneys have been recognized as Best Lawyers in their area of practice, as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, and as Pennsylvania Rising Stars. In 2014, MacDonald Illig was awarded a Governor’s Community ImPAct Award for being a company that exemplifies the tenet of “doing well by doing good”. MacDonald Illig was also recognized as an Outstanding Philanthropic Organization of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Northwest PA Chapter.