Ken Markwardt ‘45 was born in 1928, the only child of Rudy and Katherine Markwardt. He grew up in St. Paul and graduated from Cretin in 1945 and joined the Army. He was sent to Aberdeen, SD, but was sent home after just two months because the second World War had ended.

He then enrolled in St. Thomas College and married his wife, Bernice, after graduation. The two had met at a Christmas party when he was a sophomore at Cretin. They went on to have 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

“Ken is a man of great virtue and integrity,” said Father Dan Haugan “The two greatest virtues I think Ken exhibits and his life are those of generosity and love. Within the Catholic community, Ken has generously shared his many talents in service to his parish church for decades.”

He joined Ecolab in 1951 when the company only had 175 employees. Today, it employs more than 40,000. He held positions in the Accounting and Treasurer’s departments before climbing to Senior Vice President of Finance in 1973 and being elected a Director of the corporation in 1977.

“When he was in the office of the President at Ecolab I always admired how he would reach out to the entry level staff within the organization. For that, everyone looked up to him for and held him in very high esteem, sain Tom Grezen, retired Director of Human Resources at Ecolab.

Ken became involved with the Catholic Athletic Association in 1953. He originally helped with finances, and later served on the Board of Directors. He is now a Trustee of the organization. He has also served on the Board of St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, Carondelet Health Care, and Health East.

“There are a few people in our lives that everyone seems to count on. Ken Markwardt is one of those people. Ken is someone you can count on to do the right thing and go the extra distance to get it done,” said his friend Matthew Showalter.  

Ken has always been proud to step up and help those in his community who need assistance.  He and Bernice are loyal and generous CDH benefactors.

“When our Dad died in 1972, we were just 22 and 10 years old,” remembered Mike ‘67 and Tim Doran.  “Our mom Norma was left to raise seven children and had inherited a young business - St Patrick's Guild.  Ken Markwardt was one of our Dad's best friends - if it wasn't for his efforts and guidance, we don't know if St Pat’s would have survived. We will be forever grateful for what he has done and continues to do for St Patrick’s Guild, the Doran family, and the CDH community.

The inaugural Richard R. Engler Lifetime Achievement award goes to Ken Markwardt for his exemplary professional achievements and commitment to our civic community and the Catholic Church.