QU Awards Two Honorary Degrees
Quincy University recently honored Richard’53 and Connie (Volm)’54 Niemann, with honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of their lifelong contributions and commitment to the university and the community. A private family ceremony was held on January 16, 2021, in the Connie Niemann Center for Music at QU’s North Campus.
“We should all hope to grow up and be just like Rich and Connie Niemann,” said Brian McGee, Ph.D., university president. “Their devotion to their family, their community and their church has been an inspiration to generations of Quincyians. Quincy and Quincy University are better places because of Rich and Connie, who have given generously of their time, talent and treasure since their college days in the 1950s.
“For their humanity, their commitment to doing good, and their steadfast devotion to their faith, I can imagine no couple more richly deserving of Quincy University’s highest honor.”
Rich and Connie Niemann have been longtime supporters of Quincy University since attending the institution in the early 1950s. They were married in 1951 and had their first of eight children in 1952. Rich graduated in 1953 with a marketing degree and joined the family grocery business that was started by his father and uncle in 1917. Throughout their marriage, Connie has been a confidant and support for business ideas, encouraging Rich along the way.
During Rich’s childhood, the family business grew from several small stores and a wholesale house to Quincy’s first full-service supermarket by 1940. In 1969, Rich and his brother bought a controlling interest in the family business and aggressively developed the company. Today, more than 100 grocery stores, pet food stores, hardware stores, pharmacies and gas stations are part of the Niemann Foods family in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
Growing up, Connie played piano, the marimba in the Quincy Notre Dame High School orchestra, and the glockenspiel in the Marching Band. She was involved in the music program while attending Quincy University. Connie shared her love for music with her many piano students, including her children and grandchildren.
Connie has devoted much of her time to the community serving on the Quincy Symphony Women’s Board, the Encore Community Counseling Board, the Adams County Mental Health Center and the Executive Board Good Samaritan Home. Connie spent many years serving at St. Peter’s School as a pianist for the Children’s Choir, a Girl Scout leader, as well as a co-founder of the school library. She was honored as the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction in 2008.
Rich has served on many businesses, civic and charitable boards. He served as vice-chairman of the Food Marketing Institute, chairman of the Illinois Food Retailers Association, president of the Board of Education, finance chairman of Quincy University’s Board of Trustees, and president of the Quincy Rotary Club. He was a founding member of the Great River Economic Development Foundation. In 2006, Rich, along with Rich Niemann Jr. and Chris Niemann, established the Niemann Foods Foundation to benefit children and families. Along with serving on community boards, Rich and Connie have served on community fundraising campaigns for the Salvation Army, the Adams County United Way and Quincy University.
Rich has been recognized as a leader in his industry. He has been named Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Retailer of the Year and the Illinois Food Retailers Association’s Food Industry Leader of the Year. Rich has received the National Grocers Association’s Spirit of America Award and the Parker S. Gates Industry Leader Award presented by the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, he was inducted into the Quincy Area Business Hall of Fame and named Quincy University Alumnus of the Year.
Rich and Connie have long been supporters of Catholic education in Quincy. They were honored with the Friends of Catholic Education Award, Quincy Notre Dame Band Award and the Catholic Charities Distinguished Service Award.
In 2012, Rich established the Connie Niemann Music Scholarship as a tribute to Connie and the importance of music to her life. The North Campus Center for Music is named in honor of Connie Niemann.
Founded in 1860 by Franciscan friars, Quincy University is celebrating 160 years as a small Catholic university emphasizing the sciences, liberal arts and the professions. Quincy University offers undergraduate, graduate and adult education programs integrating practical experience and Franciscan values. Faculty and advisors work with students to design customized success plans to help them graduate on time, find their passion and prepare them for life. QU is a member of NCAA Division II for intercollegiate athletics. For more information, please visit www.quincy.edu or contact the Office of Community Relations at (217) 228-5275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Quincy University. Success by Design.