June 2011 cover SCAN - St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
June 2011
 
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Lasting Memories

Memorial gifts are a beautiful way to honor loved ones — and their connection to St. Kate's.

Stone bench by the Dew Drop Pond

Stone benches are among the many lasting tributes on both campuses to loved ones of St. Kate's alumnae and friends.

BY MARY BETH LEONE-GETTEN

The signs and symbols of alumnae's deep commitment to St. Catherine University — in the form of physical memorials and tribute gifts — are everywhere on campus. Benches, statues, trees and gardens beautify, infuse history, and create areas for rest and reflection. State-of-the-art equipment enhances student learning. Welcoming indoor spaces foster academic collaboration and community.

These symbols represent solidarity of alumnae and friends in support of the University's mission and gratitude to the place that has empowered generations of students to lead and influence.

Behind each gift is a story that is both unique and universal. Here are just a few:

A lovely place to be together

"A man of great integrity, spark, heart and humor," reads the inscription on the bench in memory of Marjorie Mathison Hance's late husband, Tom. St. Catherine's Vice President for External Relations, Mathison Hance '70 donated the stone bench facing the Dew Drop pond shortly after her husband's death in April 2007.

It was a fitting way to memorialize her husband, a longtime St. Catherine supporter. It was also an opportunity for Mathison Hance to give something beautiful to her alma mater — "this place that means so much to me and has been a part of my life since I was 17," she says.

While she was deeply touched by the bench's location (the couple married in Our Lady of Victory Chapel in 1981), Mathison Hance did not anticipate the memorial's enduring impact.

"It has been a surprise how much this bench touches my heart," says Mathison Hance, who sometimes starts or ends her day with a moment of reflection there. "It gives our family a lovely and uplifting place to be together, thinking about him — to be with his spirit."

A life devoted to nursing

On the Minneapolis campus in the Nursing Skills Lab, students take turns to practice administering to a medical mannequin in a hospital bed, learning both life-saving medical skills and care-giving practices that enhance patient comfort and healing. Since 2005, their learning experiences have been broadened thanks to the donation of a modern hospital bed, given by the family and friends of Marianne "Nancy" Kenefick O'Neill '54, R.N., who dedicated her life to nursing.

"This important piece of equipment not only helps our students learn to operate a state-of-the-art bed, but it helps them learn to adapt the variety of equipment they'll encounter in their workplace," explains instructor Michael Gibba. The bed's inscription, "Your legacy of excellence in nursing lives on," provides a powerful connection between past and present Katies who will serve in medical professions.

Deck the halls — with history

When Gerald Rauenhorst and John Morrison honored their wives, Henrietta Schmoll Rauenhorst '49 and Susan Schmid Morrison '60, with financial gifts to create the Rauenhorst and Morrison residence halls, they set off a domino effect. Dozens of supporters came forward to honor professors, sisters, mothers, wives and friends of St. Kate's in gratitude for the transformational learning experiences that shaped them.

These donors generously sponsored apartment suites, study rooms, social lounges and kitchens — infusing the buildings with their collective goodwill for the students who call them home. As a tribute to each honoree's history, each space includes a plaque with the name and picture of the honoree and a short story about each of their lives.

St. Kate's in her heart

It has been 62 years since Linita Menzner McDonald '49 graduated from St. Kate's, but a postcard of the Chapel can still fill her with nostalgia. McDonald attended Mass daily during her high school and college years, wearing her black academic gown — and often hiding her pajamas underneath. The postcard resurfaced when McDonald was going through her St. Kate's memorabilia with her daughter, Sharon Cade.

"Mom was visibly moved at the site of the Chapel and explained how it had been a place of significance and comfort to her as a student," Cade explains. "At that moment, I knew that my siblings and I should honor our mother with a tribute related to the Chapel."

Working with gift officer Heidi Holley, Cade and her siblings (including alumna Kathryn McDonald Hughes '73) decided to purchase a stone bench in a new garden area on the Chapel's north side. The bench will sit on a patio made of historic bricks that originally paved the main road into campus, which were carefully salvaged by gardener Pete Nipp when the road was resurfaced a few years ago.

McDonald and her husband are longtime donors who established a scholarship in 1962 and provided for the University in their estate. "My mom has St. Kate's in her heart all the time," Cade says. "A bench in her honor, creating an enduring presence near the Chapel she loves so much, is the best tribute we could give to her. She is so touched by it."


Mary Beth Leone-Getten is a St. Paul–based freelance writer.

 
Favorite Places

An Artistic Legacy — and Other Enduring Academic Gifts

The gift of a scholarship is the most popular way to honor or memorialize a loved one at St. Catherine University. This tradition dates back to the institution's founding, when Hugh Derham, our earliest benefactor, donated the funds for the first building. At the same time he provided $5,000, which became the University's first endowed scholarship — one that is still awarded today.

Memorial scholarships perpetuate the legacy of the person for whom they are named, representing a bit of their spirit and life stories.

Amy Marie Sears '95 died tragically in a car accident just two years after graduating from St. Kate's with a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and education. In 1999, her parents, Peter and Sandra Sears, established an endowed memorial scholarship in Amy's name, given annually to a studio art or art history student who shows outstanding aptitude and commitment to the arts.

"St. Kate's was the place where Amy's dreams begin to unfold," says her mother. "It is so heartwarming to know that a bit of Amy lives on in the artistic dreams of the students who receive her scholarship."

Finding her path

A transfer student, Amy was so enthused about her new life at St. Kate's that she invited her mother to spend a day with her on campus, meeting her friends and attending classes. "I got to see firsthand how the whole world had opened up to her," Sandra recalls. "When she got to St. Kate's, it was like she was finally home."

Amy fell in love with printmaking and photography, and soon she was working toward a double major. During her senior year, she interned in the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery under the supervision of gallery Director Kathy Daniels '73, who became her mentor.
"When Amy started, she was still new to the world of art," says Daniels. "I was privileged to witness a period of incredible growth where she developed such confidence and skill working with art behind the scenes."

After graduation, Daniels hired Amy as a freelance technical assistant. She gained such confidence on the job that she soon applied for — and was offered — a similar position at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, one of the best-known modern art museums in the country. Instead, Amy followed her personal dream to work on her own art in the western United States.

Visiting Artist Series

The Sears family had been looking for another way to honor Amy's memory when they heard about the opportunity to sponsor the Visiting Artist Series, a program that brings a distinguished artist to the University each year to enrich and enhance the curriculum for art students and the community at large.

"Amy had such a limited time to
create her own physical legacy through her artwork, but her parents have enabled her to live on through the Visiting Artist Series," explains Daniels. "Long after all of us are gone, Amy's name will still be out there." — Mary Beth Leone-Getten


For more information about honoring a loved one through a gift to St. Catherine University, contact Terri Bouressa in the Development Office at 651.690.6976.