This week is Catholic Schools Week in the United States. Since 1974, Catholic schools across the country have recognized this week with special celebrations. One area family has many family members recognizing it, as they have had over 40 students go through St. Francis Xavier and Beckman Catholic over the years.
Rita and Bill Domeyer lived in Petersburg for a good portion of their lives. The couple sent their nine children to St. Peter & Paul Catholic School in the small town. And when it was time for their kids to go to high school, eight of the nine kids went to Beckman, with their other child attending Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs.
“Our family was very involved with the Catholic church growing up,” Julie Riniker, Bill and Rita’s daughter, said. “My parents were big supporters of our family and Beckman.”
Bill was heavily involved with keeping the high school open during the 1970s. He was on a committee that took charge on this front. A vote was held to close the school Nov. 5, 1973, however, this motion was changed after leaders of the community collected $570,655 in cash and pledges in only two weeks.
“Mom and Dad had a very strong tie with the community and Beckman,” Riniker said.
Rita is now 86 years old, and her family has grown substantially. Her nine kids turned into 24 grandchildren and then to 46 great-grandchildren. A few of her great-grandchildren are a couple of hours away, but many are still in the Dyersville area.
The family has 15 great-grandchildren currently at St. Francis Xavier School, while one is at Beckman.
“Living in Dyersville,” Riniker said, “there are obvious options that help send your kids to a Catholic school.”
Having this many relatives all in one school at the same time is a rare occurrence, but Riniker thinks the Domeyer descendants recognize how nice it is to have someone close.
“They realize how nice it is to have a lot of relatives at school with them,” she said. “Not every family has that.”
Rita still goes to events that the kids are involved with, and they always welcome their great-grandmother with open arms.
Eight Domeyer siblings and 18 grandchildren have gone through the Beckman school system. With 16 others and many more great-grandchildren to come, the legacy of this family at Xavier and Beckman will continue for many years.