Elizabeth “Betty” Jean (Fonk) Riley, ’52, and Nancy Noeske never met. And yet the two women on their distinctive and meaningful life paths shared a commitment to education, a generosity of heart, and a love for Stritch that led to legacy gifts which will help ensure that doors to educational opportunities will continue to open for students of future generations.
Betty (Fonk) Riley ‘52
Betty (Fonk) Riley, ’52, (far left, standing), at the 1950 Chaplain’s Day formal dinner honoring Monsignor James Graham (left, seated)
Born the oldest of eight to parents who operated a chicken farm, Betty Riley went boldly where only about five percent of Midwestern women ventured in the late 1940s – to college. Graduating from Stritch with her bachelor’s degree in medical technology, Riley then entered the professional world as a medical technician for a few years before making the decision to stay home with her growing family, which included husband Charles and eight children born during a 13-year span.
Today, an endowed scholarship bears her name, carrying on her legacy at Stritch and bringing to life her belief in the importance of education as a means to independence, self-sufficiency, and a better life.
“All of us girls are very self-sufficient, all in careers, and I’m so grateful to my mother for being that role model for me,” said Barb Riley, who now serves as vice president of business development of Riley Construction, a firm founded by her parents that holds steadfast to their values of humility, integrity, flexibility, and initiative.
During her lifetime, Betty Riley supported the Stritch Annual Fund and made a major gift to help with the 2006 Bonaventure Hall renovation project. Upon her passing in 2006, her children allocated scholarship funds from a Charitable Remainder Trust to establish The Betty Riley Endowed Scholarship Fund at Cardinal Stitch University. The scholarship, which will eventually total more than $250,000, helps support undergraduate students from Kenosha County, Wis. Through this gift, Betty Riley’s memory is shared with the many who will benefit from her family’s generosity.
Former Trustee Nancy Noeske
Nancy Noeske with Sister Camille Kliebhan, OSF, and broadcaster John McCullough at a 1991 event
Nancy Noeske’s impressive résumé details her early career as a middle-school science teacher, her corporate success as the first female vice president at the Wisconsin Electric Company, her extensive community involvements, and her entrepreneurial spirit, which led to the founding of PROACT, an executive search service firm, and Noeske and Associates, a full-service management consulting firm. Her service as a member of Stritch’s Board of Trustees from 1994-2012 brought her extensive background, expertise, and dedication to work for the University.
“Nancy was a long-time educator who was absolutely committed to the Stritch mission,” said Stritch President Dr. James P. Loftus. “As a board member, she was passionate and vocal, but was always motivated by the best interests of our students.”
Noeske actively served on Stritch’s board until her death last August, but her influence and support of the University will continue through a $600,000 gift that will provide scholarships for College of Education and Leadership students. When people choose to provide for the University in their estate plans or through charitable planned gifts as Noeske did, Stritch recognizes their commitment through membership in the Franciscan Heritage Society.
“What she appreciated most about Stritch is that we were giving students an opportunity for education who might not otherwise have been able to afford school,” said former president Sister Mary Lea Schneider, OSF, Ph.D. “Seeing firsthand the issues that face Milwaukee Public Schools and that faced members of the Milwaukee community, Noeske always delighted to see that Stritch was stepping up to the plate in innovative ways to try to make that education accessible.”
Have you included Stritch in your estate plan? Please let us know. To discuss ways to support student scholarships at Stritch, please contact Vice President for University Advancement Robert J. Buckla, Ed.D. (email@example.com; (414) 410-4201), Director of Planned Giving Chris Lange, ‘11 (firstname.lastname@example.org; (414) 410-4207) or Associate Vice President for Individual Giving Judy Haugsland (email@example.com; (414) 410-4202). Or visit www.stritch.edu/Giving/Friends-of-Stritch/Heritage-Society/
Photos courtesy of University Archives