Our Hearts Forever – Joan Kroc

Joan Kroc is remembered as a loving and transformational benefactor by the University of Notre Dame. However, even outside of the University, Joan was an amazing woman and philanthropist.

Joan was born Joan Mansfield in 1928 in West St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Humboldt High School in 1945. While she didn’t have the money to attend college, she had taken music lessons at the prestigious MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, which she parlayed into several different roles. Joan met her future husband McDonald’s Corp founder Ray Kroc in 1957, but the two would not wed until 1969.

After Ray’s death, in 1985, The Joan B. Kroc Foundation donated $18.5 million to what is now known as San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine to create its multi-purpose hospice center. In 2002, Joan helped to fund the Kroc Center, a large Salvation Army community center, and later opened up Salvation Army Kroc Centers across the nation, with the largest one-time gift ever recorded of $1.6 billion. Joan was also the owner of the San Diego Padres up until 1990, during which she started Major League Baseball’s first employee-assistance program for players and staff with drug problems. Joan was nominated and inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

Hesburgh Center for International Studies Dedication – Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, and Joan Kroc, 1991.

During the mid-1980s, Joan heard about Notre Dame when then University President, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., spoke at an event in San Diego about the escalating nuclear arms race. Moved by his speech, she made a gift to establish an institute at Notre Dame dedicated to peace, along with an additional gift later to build the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, which now houses the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. In 2003, Joan made a $50 million gift, the single largest gift in the history of Notre Dame at the time.

From 1985 until her death in 2003, Joan contributed a total of $69.1 million to establish and support the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. The Kroc Institute has now grown to include a faculty of about two dozen Kroc Institute scholar-teachers, as well as thriving academic programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. levels.

Kroc Institute alumni (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Erin Corcoran, Executive Director at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, said of Joan’s impact:

There would be no Kroc Institute without the generosity of Mrs. Joan B. Kroc. Her commitment to creating a more just and peaceful society through her many gifts has enabled the Kroc Institute to become a world leader in the study of the causes of violence and strategies for building peace around the world. In partnership with Fr. Hesburgh, Mrs. Kroc dreamed of an Institute at Notre Dame that could bring students together from various countries and backgrounds to understand and find solutions to the biggest problems facing humanity. And through the seeds that Mrs. Kroc sowed, we can report that this vision has come to fruition. The Kroc Institute’s alumni network includes over 1,800 Notre Dame graduates working for peace in over 100 countries around the globe.

Through her philanthropy, Joan Kroc was a voice for the voiceless. She was often referred to as “Saint Joan of Arches” for her astounding generosity. Joan’s legacy, as summarized by her biographer Lisa Napoli, “Simple: Give. Giving is a crucial part of being alive. Even if you’re not wealthy, live and give large, embracing everything around you.” And Joan truly did.

Our Hearts Forever – Kathleen Andrews

Kathleen Andrews was, and still remains, a well-known and respected figure throughout the Notre Dame community for her many accomplishments both at the University and throughout her life. She served on the University’s McGrath Institute for Church Life Advisory Council and the Ireland Advisory Council, and she was a respected member of the University’s Board of Trustees, to which she was elected in 1993. Three years later, she made history as the first woman to serve as a Fellow of the University. In 2003, Notre Dame bestowed Kathleen with an honorary degree, and in 2004, she was presented with the Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C Award, which is presented annually to a graduate who has embodied “the values of Our Lady’s University” in his or her service to the community.

A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, and the youngest of seven, Kathleen knew her future dreams depended on getting an education. Through her hard work, she received a full-ride scholarship to Notre Dame College in Cleveland. She later earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1963 from the University of Notre Dame, during which time she met her beloved husband, James (Jim) Andrews.

The Andrews, together with John (another Notre Dame alumnus) and Susan McMeels, founded Universal Press Syndicate, now Andrews McMeel Universal, in 1970. Kathleen served as chief financial officer and secretary of the company until she paused her full-time involvement in order to take care of her two young sons, Hugh and Jim. After the passing of her husband, Kathleen returned to the company and, with the McMeels, helped to grow it into the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world and a renowned publishing powerhouse behind such classics as Ziggy, Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes. She served as the chief executive officer until her retirement in 2006.

To honor her late husband, Kathleen and the McMeels created two endowments that helped launch and sustain the University’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP). SSLP is an initiative of the Center for Social Concerns and Notre Dame Alumni Association. The program allows Notre Dame students to engage in summer-long service projects with non-profit organizations related to healthcare, poverty, immigration, education, and other social issues. These projects are both enriching and life-changing, and they benefit communities across the country.

David Dias, a current junior at the University of Notre Dame, said of his SSLP experience:

“This past summer (2021), I had the chance to immerse myself in the community of L’Arche Noah Sealth in Capitol Hill Seattle. L’Arche strives to highlight the gifts that those with intellectual and physical disabilities have through fostering community. L’Arche is part of a greater organization around the world that currently has 154 communities globally. Specifically, in the Seattle community, there are 3 homes in the same vicinity that engage in daily activities and community events regularly…Every week my responsibilities included cooking, cleaning, driving people to and from work, community events, outings, and prayer…I found myself having time to live in the moment and spend quality time with the folks and people living with me. One particular quote I loved that explains the beauty of L’Arche is, ‘The world says change and be accepted. L’arche says accept and be transformed.’”

Summer Service Learning Program Group Photo – 2019

Thousands of students like David can attribute their transformational SSLP experiences to Kathleen, and countless others, including her friends and family, continue to remember her loving and generous spirit.

“She gave in all directions. It’s been a little since April last year when she passed, and I’ve received a lot of requests and letters and follow-ups from all around the country that I never knew anything about,” said her son, Hugh Andrews. “She just felt very blessed and loved. She used to claim that she never worked a day in her life because she loved the career, she loved the people we dealt with and, as she got older, one of the biggest things in our life was the scholarship program. She was proud of it and her association with the University of Notre Dame.”

While history will always remember Kathleen as a pioneer, she serves too as an enduring inspiration: a “gal from Ashtabula” who, through her hard work and generous spirit, has impacted the lives of thousands of students, as well as the lives of tens of thousands of community members helped by the SSLP.

Our Hearts Forever – Florence Dailey

The first woman philanthropist at Notre Dame that the Hesburgh Women of Impact will be highlighting and honoring is Florence Dailey, whose estate gift in the 1960s was one of the largest in Notre Dame history.

Florence was working as a secretary at a bank in upstate New York in the early part of the twentieth century when her boss encouraged her, among many of his employees, to buy stock in his friend’s new company. Florence took her boss’s advice and invested in the company, and kept that stock throughout the rest of her life, seemingly forgetting about it. That friend of her boss turned out to be George Eastman, and the company that he was launching was Eastman Kodak. At the time of her death in 1966, Florence owned approximately 154,000 shares of Kodak.

Florence had never married nor had any children, but as a Catholic, she valued faith, hard work, and the value of a good education above all else. Due to these values, when it came to writing her last will and testament, she wanted to give to Catholic education, specifically one of the most prestigious Catholic universities she had heard of. So, although she had no known association with the University of Notre Dame, she left half of her estate to the University.

Planned gifts such as this have made an incredible impact at Notre Dame. Since Notre Dame’s earliest days, planned gifts have sustained and advanced the sacred mission of Our Lady’s University in innumerable ways. From supporting scholarships, to funding professorships and even a deanship, planned gifts have helped to shape the Notre Dame we know today. In fact, it was a planned gift of more than 500 acres of land from Father Stephen Theodore Badin that enabled the historic founding of Notre Dame in 1842. Through planned gifts, Notre Dame’s sacred mission will continue to flourish—today, tomorrow, and forever.

The University of Notre Dame used Florence Dailey’s gift to endow the John & Mary Boyle Dailey Memorial Scholarship, named after Florence’s parents. This scholarship has provided financial aid for thousands of students, including junior Al Godlewski.

When the time came to apply to colleges, my heart knew that I wanted to go to Notre Dame, but I knew my parents were never going to be able to afford it. With some research, I was able to find the QuestBridge Scholarship program, a program that seeks to pair high achieving students from lower-income families and get them full scholarships to attend elite universities. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program and matched with my top choice, the University of Notre Dame.

Coming to Notre Dame was the best thing that ever happened to me. Through hard work and dedication, I set myself up to be able to come to this school and succeed under the rigorous coursework that Notre Dame provides. I have made so many friends and met so many amazing people that I wouldn’t have met at any other University. This was my dream school, and I am thankful every single day for this blessing.

-Al Godlewski, Class of 2023

Florence’s generous decision to give has lived on for decades past her life and continues to help provide many students with the amazing gift of a Notre Dame education.