A Legacy for Generations
By James M. McMenamin, LA '68
,br /> My great grandmother, Frances Bridget Walsh McNamee, was widowed at the age of 40 with five young sons to raise. But she knew the worth of strong values and a good education. According to family lore, when she learned that the Jesuits were to open a new prep school on the grounds of Loyola University early in the 20th century, she held back sending my grandfather, Peter McNamee, to any other high school so that he could enroll in what she knew would be a superior Catholic institution of learning.
So keen was she to have her son register that he was the first four-year student to enroll at the Academy. When he graduated in 1913, he was already 21 years old but a good scholar and a great lover of Loyola baseball, where he pitched on the school team. Peter McNamee went on to earn a law degree from Northwestern University and practiced family law for over 50 years.
When my mother and her two sisters were teenagers, the Academy was still an all-male institution, so all three went elsewhere for high school. During World War II, she married my father, Bob McMenamin, a farm boy from DeKalb County. In 1949 my parents were sent abroad as expatriates with their three children by international Harvester for 14 years to New Zealand (where I was born in 1951), to Australia and finally to France.
When our family of 14 later returned to the States, my mother made certain that the six of her seven sons young enough to attend the Academy (Peter, Jim, Joe, Tom, Rich and Bill) received the same rounded education and strong values her father had at LA, by then relocated to Wilmette, Illinois. Of the six of us who attended the Academy, we went off to mostly disparate careers: one in physical therapy, one banker, two lawyers, one entrepreneur and one corporate executive. More importantly, we benefited from the same work ethic, collaborative spirit and moral underpinning our grandfather had, both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.
Several years ago, when LA acquired land in Glenview for its Sports Complex, all six of my brothers and I contributed funds towards its build-out in honor of our grandfather’s love of LA baseball, along with a plaque at the playing field to remember him. Over several years, my parents left legacies to the Academy. Though my grandfather was the only one of his siblings to attend Loyola, two generations later that number was six, and in the next generation, I’m proud to say 18 (of the McMenamin, Felix, Mohr, Pastuovic and Richmond families) have graduated from the same prep school my grandfather did in 1913.
Because I want that tradition to continue, because I support the values, goals and objectives of the Jesuit educational approach, I too have decided to leave a cash legacy to the Academy for its general purposes so that others can benefit from a Loyola education.