Saint Mary's College: Giving 2015
On May 2, 1956, Joseph Shally ’32 and a group of fellow alumni presented a check to Brother President Thomas Levi, FSC in the amount of $443 at the conclusion of an elegant dinner at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland. The money was used to provide tuition for a young man from the East Bay. Joe and his contemporaries were content with their success, and had no intention of sponsoring a second event. Fortunately, camaraderie and commitment prevailed.
On May 7, 2014, Shally’s successors, officially known as the Saint Mary’s EastBay Scholarship Fund, Inc., presented President James Donahue with a check in the amount of $45,000 at the conclusion of another elegant dinner at the very same location. The event in May of this year marked the 59th occasion that the Fund has sponsored a banquet and presented SMC with a donation to assist East Bay students. In fact, adjusted for inflation and using 2014 dollars, the Fund has provided $2,400,000 in scholarship assistance over the course of those 59 years.
Today, Joe’s daughter, Miriam Cordeiro, serves as a trustee of the Fund that he and his contemporaries created. Ms. Cordeiro obtained her teaching credential at SMC in 1972. She reminisced about the early years of the organization:
"My mother and father had a small tin box filled with 3x5 cards. Each card had the name, telephone number, and other important information about a local alum. Every April my parents would sit at the kitchen table and use our old rotary telephone to call every alumnus in Oakland. They always worried that no one would come to the dinner. Of course, the crowd seemed to get larger and larger every year. I remember that there was a big controversy in the 1970s about allowing women to attend . . . some die hards vowed never to return if women came to the dinner. Well, the wives and female alumni were allowed, and the die hards returned!
"My father was grateful to all who attended the annual dinner meeting and/or simply contributed to the Fund. His annual feat was to rise and personally introduce each guest by name and share a quick personal story or biographical note about each attendee. Each guest was treated as a friend of my father. Each guest was honored for bringing success to the organization."
Brian Shally ’69 is Miriam’s brother and the father of Ms. Karen Kremeier, who also serves as a trustee. He confirmed that his parents “worked the phones” every April in anticipation of the dinner, which was always held on the first or second Wednesday in May. He also offered the following:
"My parents loved Saint Mary’s. My dad was a day student in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. He took the train to and from his Oakland home to the campus, because it was the fastest and least expensive way to get there. . . . My mother obviously did not attend SMC. However, she enrolled in several summer school courses taught by Brother Leo at Berkeley. She was so impressed that she kept her course notes for as long as she lived. My parents would love the fact that their granddaughter Karen is a trustee."
Joe Shally retired as president in 1991 after serving for 37 years. Larry Appel, ’64 succeeded Shally and remained as president until he was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court in 2002. Randy Andrada, ’73 assumed the position and remains as president. Mr. Andrada noted the following:
"The Fund evokes the past. One of our dinner speakers was the grandson of an alumnus of the Mission Road campus. Many of our now deceased members had family ties to SMC that dated to the 1800’s. We still have members whose families have been connected with the College for a century. We are the keepers of the historical record.
"The Fund is also committed to the present. Let me explain. The College specifically designates certain students as recipients of the financial assistance that we provide. There is actually a Joseph and Frances Shally Scholarship Award. The scholarship recipients and their families attend our annual dinner. They mingle with the alums who are financing at least part of their education. It is an opportunity for young and not so young Gaels to meet and compare notes.
"The Fund has already invested in the future. We have an endowment of $840,000 that is professionally managed. The profit from the portfolio provides most of the money for our annual gift. We intend to be here for another 59 years."
No article about this remarkable organization would be complete without a reminder that the Fund was instrumental in the acquisition of the legendary Bell of Saint Mary’s in 1988 to mark the 125th anniversary of the College. The bell remained behind on the original San Francisco campus when the College moved to Oakland in 1889, and was all but forgotten after the move to Moraga. Its return after 99 years brought front page publicity. 50 years from now, the College will celebrate seminal events by ringing the bell. As the song goes, the bell of Saint Mary’s will “ring out” the commitment and love for the College demonstrated by Joe Shally, his fellow Oakland alums from 1956, and those who continue to provide financial support to the Fund 59 years later.