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Mary Alice Isaacson with children Sr. Marcella (Maggie ’86), M.C., and Rev. James, S.J.C., (’88)
Mary Alice Isaacson with children Sr. Marcella (Maggie ’86), M.C., and Rev. James, S.J.C., (’88)


Please pray for the repose of the soul of Mary Alice Isaacson, a friend and generous benefactor of Thomas Aquinas College since its early days, who passed away on November 4.

Mrs. Isaacson and her late husband, William, dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to building up the Archdiocese of Chicago and beyond. Troubled by the social trends of the late 1960s, they contributed however they could to strengthening the Catholic Church in the United States. The couple assisted Rev. John Hardon, S.J., in founding the Institute for Religious Life (IRL) in the early 1970s, for instance, and took an interest in the renewal of Catholic education, which Dr. Ronald P. McArthur and his co-founders were attempting at Thomas Aquinas College. 

Although TAC was then in its fledgling years, the couple saw clearly what it could become, leading Mr. Isaacson to join the Board of Governors in 1979. His experience further convinced him and his wife of the value of the College’s program of Catholic liberal education, prompting them to entrust it with the formation of their three children, Will (’82), Sr. Marcella (Maggie ’86), and Rev. James, S.J.C., (’88). 

When her husband died in 1995, Mrs. Isaacson sustained friendship with the College with singular generosity. She was a member of both the President’s Council and the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Legacy Society, but also found more creative ways to express her affection and admiration for the College’s mission. In 2011, for instance, she and her son, Fr. James, donated an 1800s-era oil painting of St. Albert the Great to adorn the walls of the Albertus Magnus Science Hall on the California campus. 

Mrs. Isaacson’s benevolence was not limited, of course, to Thomas Aquinas College. “She attended every IRL National Meeting banquet up until this year and was a generous benefactor to religious communities in so many unseen ways,” the IRL noted in its memorial. Added the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in their own statement, “Mary Alice was fondly referred to as ‘Reverend Mother’ by many in Chicago, especially the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity and the Little Sisters of the Poor.” 

The Catholic Church and the many institutions that serve it have benefitted greatly from the Isaacsons’ devotion. “Mary Alice and William were mainstays of the College in its earliest years, when it needed sound guidance to weather the many challenges that young institutions face,” says TAC president Dr. Paul J. O’Reilly. “Thanks be to God and, in no small part, their friendship, Thomas Aquinas College is where it is today. May they both rest in peace.”