Making a difference

By Maroon & White | fall 2014

Donnie Keleher DipEng’69, BSc’70 loved Saint Mary’s, so when the university’s former Director of Development passed away in May 2014, his family asked Saint Mary’s to add his name to the endowed scholarship fund already established by Donnie’s late father, Thomas J. Keleher (1918 to 1992). 


“Donnie was instrumental in setting up Dad’s endowment fund and we have all supported it in small ways over the years through annual donations and memorial tributes,” says Donnie’s sister, Mary Hellstrom. “Larger amounts came from a bequest left by our mother, Beryl, and Donnie’s insurance policy.”

The Keleher family has a two-generation connection with Saint Mary’s that began in the 1960s when Donnie, Mary and their brother David attended the University. The second generation of Santamarians includes Mary’s daughters, Christa Brothers and Amanda Hellstrom, and Donnie’s daughter, Tara Keleher. 

“Our parents weren’t wealthy, but they were always willing to share,” says Mary. “They taught us that regular people can make a big difference.”

According to Mary, the key to establishing an endowed scholarship is to make a commitment and stick to it. “Any family can do this,” says Mary. “It’s more about how important it is to a family than the amount of money that family has. In my family it is very important, and we are all proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Endowed scholarships and bursaries are the foundation of Saint Mary’s commitment to student financial aid. Thanks to the foresight of the Keleher family, the Thomas J. and Donald P. Keleher Memorial Scholarship is a lasting tribute to two remarkable individuals, and a wonderful example of the power of an endowment. 

Whether you establish an endowed scholarship, or add to an existing endowment, the principal of your gift is invested to produce income that funds annual awards. Because the principal remains untouched, the endowment can last forever. What better way to create a lasting legacy to a loved one and, at the same time, open doors for a diverse community of learners? 

Campus Notes: “I give because I believe in Saint Mary’s University.”

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