December 30/Plymouth, Wis./Press Release -- Sargento Foods announced that Mark Rhyan, executive vice president and chief operating officer, passed away on Wednesday, December 25 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.  Rhyan is survived by his wife and two children.

Rhyan joined Sargento in 1992 and made an indelible print on the culture and success of the company and played an integral role in shaping the company's future.  First hired as director of Tax, he was promoted to EVP-chief financial officer in 1997 and to his most recent role in 2000. Always willing to take on more responsibility, he guided the advances in manufacturing, engineering, procurement, quality systems, logistics and transportation that are helping the company meet the challenges of a growing company.

His greatest achievement, though, is how he has guided the development of his teams and Sargento as a whole. Rhyan was a champion of the company's corporate culture, and was passionate about “doing it right the first time.” He served as a mentor to many, and his actions and attitude motivated those around him to excel. His work and inspiration shaped a generation of men and women to be leaders at Sargento and in the local community.