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The Gift of Giving

Photo of Mary Joy Allaert

Mary Allaert-Feeney

March 2017


It was sparked by the quiet example of a father. The Allaert-Feeney inter-generational legacy of service to St. Ambrose is closely tied to the university's faith-based roots, values and mission to educate and serve.

Industrialist Wilbur Allaert was named a university trustee in 1976. Prior to his board service, he had provided funds to build the television production studio in the lower level of the Galvin Fine Arts Center and supported the St. Ambrose National Challenge Fund with a generous donation.

When Wilbur Allaert passed away, his daughter Mary Joy (Allaert) Feeney and his son Paul Allaert ‘57, now deceased, honored their father through a gift that named the Allaert Auditorium in Galvin.

Mary Joy said her father was active in religious, charitable and community activities, and willingly supported institutions and organizations that he felt passionate about.

Over the years, she witnessed the impact of such support at St. Ambrose and its value in growing university programs and facilities. "The campus has really developed and that only happens if you have strong leadership and alumni and friends who support their vision," she said.

Mary Joy supports university leadership in its commitment to educating students who enrich lives.

"This has created a unique atmosphere where everyone at St. Ambrose is embraced as family," Mary Joy said.

"Here, they acknowledge you, make you feel comfortable and are supportive. Everyone is warm and friendly."

Married to the late John Feeney '52, Mary Joy's devotion to St. Ambrose has been recognized many times over. She received an Honorary Alumna Award from SAU in 1998, an Honorary Ambrosian Award in 2003, and the McMullen Award in 2013. Mary Joy continues to support the university as a member of the Bishop McMullen Legacy Circle and the 1882 Society of the President's Club.

The loyalty shown to St. Ambrose by Mary Joy, as well as by her father and brother, continues through the next generation. Her son Jeff graduated from the university in 1976. Paul's daughter, Theresa Thompson, is also a strong university supporter and a member of the President's Club.

Mary Joy continues to be impressed by the students who enroll at St. Ambrose.

"These young people are the future of America. They are highly motivated and work hard to achieve their goals," she said. "That's why my father gave, why my family gives, and why I hope others will give as well."

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