TO: The Gonzaga Community
FROM: Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President
SUBJ: With Appreciation & Deep Gratitude for Miss Myrtle E. Woldson
DATE: May 5, 2014
As we near the conclusion of our academic year, it is with gratitude and excitement that I share the following, truly significant news for our University.
Last month, we were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Miss Myrtle E. Woldson, a true friend of Gonzaga and patron of the City of Spokane. Miss Woldson had close ties to Gonzaga for more than five decades, and had just turned 104 years old when she passed away on April 11. Her quiet, private generosity to many causes in our region over time is but one of the great expressions of her legacy of love.
An accomplished Spokane businesswoman, musician, philanthropist and avid gardener, Miss Woldson held a lifelong commitment to the arts, music, and education. She has celebrated that love with a bequest to design, build and furnish a state-of-the art Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Gonzaga University.
The facility will be named in her honor: The Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center. Estimated at 52,000-square-feet, the building will include a 750-seat performance theatre which she asked be named for Fr. Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., Chancellor of Gonzaga, as well as areas dedicated to instruction in music, dance, and theatre arts. Many of the details of the facility, including its location on campus, have not yet been finalized but will be announced later this fall.
This gift honors the rich heritage of the arts in the Jesuit tradition. It will usher in a new era of teaching and learning in these creative disciplines at GU, as well as create a magnificent venue for the entire community to enjoy. Miss Woldson is building on the foundation for the arts at Gonzaga created by the Jundt Art Center and Museum and the Harry and Colleen Magnuson Theatre, as well as the dedicated work of our exceptional faculty and staff in these fields.
The daughter of a self-made industrialist, a railroad contractor who helped build The Great Northern Railway, Miss Woldson quietly carried on her family’s tradition of investing, industry and philanthropy. Through discipline, creativity and business acumen she became a successful businesswoman in her own right. Her love for the Spokane community can be seen in several named developments that honor her parents: The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox (home to the Spokane Symphony), and the Edwidge Woldson Park on Spokane’s South Hill. Far more frequently her philanthropy was private and discreet. Miss Woldson’s quiet, dignified support makes her compassion all the more powerful, reflecting her lifelong commitment to hold the community she loved “in trust.”
Miss Woldson was a member of the Gonzaga family; an avid Zag who attended University events and loved to cheer on the Bulldogs at basketball games. She made generous gifts to the Jundt Museum Art Endowment, Athletics, and student scholarships over the years.
Miss Woldson’s generous bequest honors more than the performing and visual arts she loved. It also reflects her understanding of the University’s significant financial needs, as well as her personal recognition that the kind of Jesuit and Catholic education she knows we are committed to providing is possible only through private support.
It is such a privilege to share this news of her profound generosity, and I personally will forever cherish her friendship and her memory.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.