Perpetuating Values with Perpetual Support

Noni and Jim Comerford
Noni (Flannery) (’62) and Jim (’61) Comerford

November 29, 2023
University Advancement

Jim (’61) and Noni (Flannery) (’62) Comerford believe that no matter who you are, education can make a big difference in your life. That belief helped fuel more than six decades of general support, a decade of support for the Gonzaga Scholars Program, which supports first-generation students who are high achievers with high financial need, and the recent decision to endow a scholarship that will, in perpetuity, help make the Jesuit education students are seeking from Gonzaga easier to afford.


“Whether it’s tuition, housing, or other expenses—the college experience is expensive now,” said Noni, whose passion for philanthropy has guided the Comerfords’ giving to Gonzaga, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, and numerous other causes. “Whatever we can do to serve the less fortunate, we feel an obligation to share our good fortune.”


The Comerfords met during their time as Gonzaga students. They recalled sitting in the four rows of bench seats in what is now Magnuson Theatre to watch All-American Frank Burgess play basketball back when the space was used as the athletic facility.


Noni taught in a low-income Seattle grade school for several years before the Comerfords married. They had three sons and followed Jim’s career from the Northwest to the Midwest and back working in sales for a large machine company. Later, Jim accepted a role at the helm of Noni’s father’s company, which manufactured and sold utility poles. Thanks to Jim’s distinctive Gonzaga education, he was primed for success, acquiring similar companies in Canada and the U.S.


“My way of thinking was fortified at Gonzaga,” said Jim.  “It was there I learned you don’t need to know the answers, you learned how to find the answers.”


Jim and Noni both agree that the hallmark of a Gonzaga education is in the approach to life that extends beyond the curriculum. From each of their respective families they learned to be people of service to others —the Comerfords’ experience exemplified the Jesuit principle of the Magis, or “more,” and helped strengthen the values that inspire them still, today.


“Shared between Gonzaga and Catholic Charities are values of care for other people,” explained Noni.  Their hope is that children from Gonzaga Haven or other Catholic Charity Havens will be recipients of the scholarship they’ve endowed.


Jim agreed, “We have always given whether we had very much or not. We are choosing to encourage young people and hope they remember to give someday, too.”


If you'd like to follow in the Comerford’s footsteps and support scholarships, your donations between now and December 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, making your gifts Twice as Nice for students.