A little over ten years ago we dedicated the Chapel of the Three Companions. A few years later we installed the Statue of the Three Companions, created by Vincent DeFelice '86. Over centuries, the Society of Jesus has been called "the company." The word "companion" has deep meaning for our school, and we formalized that several years ago with what we have called the Companions Award, given to those individuals who have helped Gonzaga Prep in unique and meaningful ways. These individuals have been our companions and we are grateful for their support, leadership, and care.
This year six awards were given for a variety of reasons, all unique and important. The recipients are indeed in "good company."
Our first recipient is a member of the Society Jesus, who has devoted his ministry to young people through teaching, coaching, and mentoring. Fr. Tom Lankenau returned to Gonzaga Prep five years ago after serving as the socius, the assistant to the provincial, and teaching and working on the board at Seattle Prep. Tom is a tireless worker, who is an accomplished scientist as well as a remarkable gardener. He has taught theology and science at Prep, and recently served as theology department chair. He also has served as the chaplain for the baseball team, and as an assistant coach. In particular these past few years, Tom has been untiring in his support of the development staff through the beautiful pictures that he takes, many of which have been seen in our publications. We appreciate the companionship of this great Jesuit and passionate supporter of Prep and our Fair Share program, and we will miss him, but know that he will do great work in Boise, as always responding to the call of his provincial and the needs of the Society of Jesus as they change hearts in our world.
Dee and Mary McGonigle have been companions of Prep for many years. Dee is a 1976 graduate and Mary attended our companion school before co-education, Holy Names Academy. Dee's brother Mike and sisters Anne and Trish are Prep graduates. Their son Michael just graduated from Prep last Sunday, and Sean will graduate with the class of 2019. Companionship comes in many forms. Mary is a tireless volunteer at Prep, answering phones and helping with any project that Betsy Frazier can imagine for her. Her calm presence graces Hurley Hall often and we are so blessed to have her help. Her husband Dee has supported Prep for many years, but this year truly made a difference. Over the past 14 months we have raised over $5 million in support of the Athletics and Fitness Facilities campaign. Dee was on the campaign committee, added wisdom to our approach, but significantly twisted some very important arms to gain support for this badly needed remodel.
We have hundreds of volunteers for our committees, projects, and Fair Share processes. There is never any great glory for this work, but the work is crucial to the success of the school. Bob Hailey is one of those remarkable people. He has been the stable presence on our Finance Committee, helping us balance the budget, choose the auditors for our finances, and tweak Fair Share. He also has facilitated Fair Share meetings for our families. His quiet, calm expertise and presence makes those meetings ones of companionship, not confrontation. He brings dignity to those conversations. Bob is also the chairman of the Catholic Foundation, which supports so many important programs in the Diocese of Spokane. Bob has practiced law for over 45 years, and he and Fran have been around Prep since at least the fall of 1988, when their first of eight children and ultimately eight Prep graduates started at our school.
Brian Winkler is a 1985 graduate who used to do work study when he was at the school. In particular he would help engineer Johnny Bogush with projects around the campus. Several times he has mentioned a particular area of concrete near the quad that he is not proud of. Well, he certainly has made up for that less than perfect piece. With his company, the William Winkler Company, he has never once hesitated to lend help, especially if it was for a project that was faith-related. He is responsible for all of the sidewalks around our chapel, the engineering and accomplishment of the base around our statue, the concrete work around our statue of Mary, hundreds of feet of concrete sidewalks all over our campus, support of Eagle projects, and so many other projects that required special equipment and his expertise. All done well and with no fanfare - the mark of a real companion. Brian's parents were great supporters of Prep, and his brothers and sister are graduates. He and Ann have sent their three boys to Prep - Jake graduated in 2015, Luke just graduated last Sunday and Sean will graduate in 2019.
So many of our companions are families who are dedicated to service not only at Prep, but throughout Spokane. They serve on other boards or volunteer at various sites throughout the city. Mia Davidson truly served us well this year with her chairing of our Annual Financial Aid Luncheon last fall. Mia guided an hourlong lunch for 500 of her best friends and raised over $100,000 in support of Fair Share. That success is not surprising - Mia has served on that committee for many years. She is a 1990 graduate of Prep - her parents Mike ‘58 and Joan Shanks have been longtime supports and volunteers at Prep, her uncle Bill ‘54 has been our team doctor for over forty years, she and her husband Darin are actively involved in the Diocese through great projects for the homeless and through the Nazareth Guild. Their son Michael, who just graduated last Sunday, serves on the Catholic Charities Youth Board - it is simply in their DNA to be companions where the needs are great. Their daughter Maggie graduates next year and she serves in our Ancilla service group. Joey in the class of 2021 and Molly ’25 will follow in their footsteps. Mia and her husband Darin have been incredibly supportive of all areas of education at Prep. Remarkable companions to so many people!
Our biggest fundraiser of the year is our Blue and White Ball. Vic and Aimee Plese truly made this event great this year. Both are 1988 graduates. They inspired so many people to give in so many ways. The event netted over $300,000, more than any year since our 125th anniversary celebration. Their sincerity, hard work, and humility made this happen, like everything else they do. They have served on our Time Is Now campaign for the foundation. They are strong supporters of Assumption Grade School and Catholic education in general. They also are raising five children - four of whom have graduated from Prep, including Bridget last Sunday. Their last, Caden, will graduate in the class of 2022. Positive, hard-working sincere companions - what a difference they make.