To honor my late husband, John, our family created the John August Dietrich Memorial Award to be presented at the Annual Oil Painters of America National Exhibition. Raymar is proud to award a $1,000 cash prize every year to each OPA figurative award of excellence winner. We hope our memorial award may make a difference in the life and career of each artist recipient.
Our first award was presented at the 20th Annual OPA Exhibition in 2011 and was awarded to Glenn F. Harrington for his painting, “The Breakfast Table."
When I learned of Glenn’s painting, I smiled as the title brought back some of my fondest memories of John. Early each morning at the breakfast table, we wrote in our journals and talked about personal discoveries, new Raymar product ideas and how we could positively impact the art world.
So in the spirit of John’s desire to make a difference, I applaud every artist who takes creative risks. One of you will be our next award recipient.
Born in Detroit in 1930 at the height of the depression, John’s entrepreneurial and creative sprit appeared early. At age 5, he collected and sold gallon glass jugs for 5 cents to help his family. When he was 13 he became his piano teacher’s protégé and she planned to prepare him for the classical concert stage. Instead family and teachers encouraged him to enter Sacred Heart Seminary and John become a Maryknoll missionary priest.
Ordained at 27, his strong background of philosophy, psychology and theology prepared him for life’s challenges. For his first mission, John was sent to the Amazon jungle. Without funding, John created a self sufficient town in Bolivia where the indigenous people processed rubber, exported Brazil nuts to New York and London and formed a community corporation. To speed up production John invented a nut processing machine. The American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow visited John’s "Blanca Flor" project and did a special report on John, “the jungle priest” who completely changed the socioeconomic climate of the region.
John’s philosophy was “If you can think it, you can do it.” In 1966 Pope Paul VI granted John’s dispensation to follow his dream to become an entrepreneur. John A. Dietrich & Associates blended his experience and sense of humor to teach project management seminars to the top 500 corporations. Later with XPM Inc., employing a NASA prototype, he directed programmers to develop software for scheduled maintenance on the FedEx and Continental airline fleets. Raymar was John’s third business and my daughter Emilie and I remain inspired to carry on his entrepreneurial legacy.