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Alum JoAnn McGrath Remembered for Commitment to Alverno's Nursing Program

Alum JoAnn McGrath Remembered for Commitment to Alverno's Nursing Program

JoAnn (Resch) McGrath ’57, an Alverno nursing alum and philanthropist, died on February 19, 2024.

McGrath spent her life modeling Alverno’s commitment to effective citizenship and core values of leadership, service to others, stewardship and faith. She came to Alverno from Antigo, Wis., in 1953. Drawn by the challenge of nursing and an abiding dedication to helping others, Alverno became her first step on a path leading to far-reaching accomplishments in service and philanthropy.

Since earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1957, McGrath made a lasting mark as a nurse, mother, grandmother and generous supporter of health care programs, schools, children and families, and numerous charities, always keeping Alverno close to her heart.

While the causes she supported stretch from coast to coast, McGrath’s deep impact on Alverno and its students is unmatched.

“The sad news of JoAnn McGrath’s passing brought with it many fond memories of my interactions with her,” said Peg Rauschenberger ’85, dean emerita of nursing and current professor and associate dean in Alverno’s JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing. “I can truly say I never had a conversation with JoAnn that wasn’t lively, entertaining, multidirectional and inspiring! Where the discussion would end up was always unpredictable. Her passion for everything from nursing to art to students to family was so evident, as was her commitment to Alverno College. JoAnn embodied a spirit of philanthropy in every sense of the word that I can only aspire to. I’m so happy to have known her and so happy to call her a sister Alverno alum.”

The JoAnn McGrath Nursing Scholarship Fund was established in 1992, paving the way for young women to achieve their dreams of a nursing degree. Many of the women who received the scholarship have been first-generation college students from families with financial need. To date, the fund has provided scholarships for 87 Alverno students.

McGrath also served her alma mater as a member of the Alumnae Association board from 1997-2001, regularly traveling to Milwaukee from her home in Massachusetts to attend meetings and support the Association’s work.

Through the Highland Street Foundation, JoAnn, her late husband David McGrath, Jr., and their children have played a leadership role in supporting programs and projects that have built the reputation of Alverno and provided opportunities for Alverno students. McGrath and the foundation have supported many College initiatives through endowment, capital and annual gifts. Notably, when the College broke ground on its Teaching, Learning & Technology Center in 2001, McGrath and her family were among the first to step forward with support. The building, now called the Sister Joel Read Center, opened in 2004.

In recognition of her many contributions to the College and its students, Alverno named the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing in honor of this cherished alumna in 2012. Alverno also proudly presented McGrath with the College’s Bene Award in 2009, which recognizes individuals whose philanthropy demonstrate an exemplary commitment to Alverno. McGrath received the Golden Jubilee Award in 2007, which celebrates alums who have made extraordinary contributions to society that honor the Franciscan spirit.

McGrath was an active community volunteer, served on many prestigious boards and has an honorary degree from College of the Holy Cross.

McGrath is survived by her children David J. McGrath III, Scott J. McGrath, Holly L. McGrath, Christopher R. McGrath, Sean P. McGrath and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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