Four Years, a Lifetime of Memories
After Patricia Oliver '72 first visited the Mount Mercy campus with her sister in the summer of 1966, she never even looked at another college. She wanted to attend a small, private college and she fell in love with the well-groomed campus at Mount Mercy.
When Pat entered Mount Mercy in 1968, it was an all-women's college and tuition for the first semester was $375. Students were expected to attend daily mass. She remembers sharing a "community bathroom" at the far end of the floor and having one pay phone for all the girls.
On Pat's first night at Mount Mercy, the freshman girls were awakened by upperclassmen at 5 a.m. and led to a location where they received beanies. For one week, they were expected to wear the beanies at all times. If caught without a beanie, they were required to do whatever the upperclassmen asked, which could mean scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush or singing the school song in public.
"Our floor mother, Sister Gladys Daly, was a very progressive nun," Pat recalls. "We bought her a yellow sweater for Christmas in 1968 and she wore it over her habit! Then, in 1969, we gave her a hair dryer. Yes, the nuns had hair under their veils!"
Pat was extremely shy going into college, but like many others she gained confidence during her time at Mount Mercy. She started as a math major but when, as she puts it, "calculus was too much for me," Sister Immaculata helped her transition to business and secondary education—a perfect fit. Pat went on to spearhead Mount Mercy's affiliation with Phi Beta Lambda, embracing its mission of bringing business and education together in a positive work environment. She was a charter member and the first president of the Chapter.
Pat and her classmates witnessed some historic changes during their college years. In 1969, the first two male students were admitted to Mount Mercy and then in 1970 the January exploratory term was introduced to the academic calendar.
A 1972 note in Pat's file shows that her consistent annual support for Mount Mercy began even before she graduated:
"After a few years of saying 'thank you for your gift to the Annual Alumni Fund,' I find it difficult to say anything more meaningful. Therefore, I repeat that ‘thank you' with greater emphasis because we are all aware of the economic pinch everyone is feeling. We are most grateful for your donation."
—Sister Mary Ruth Torpey, Alumni Director
Pat's successful career in the insurance industry began at Mount Mercy and spanned 42 years. A summer job in crop insurance led to a full-time job in insurance after graduation. She started rating policies and later became department manager. Pat enjoyed training others and taught accounting in the evening at Kirkwood Community College for 13 years.
Pat was no stranger to hard work. She grew up on a farm near Keswick, Iowa, the youngest of three girls. She did field work and worked side by side with her dad. When he passed away in 1980, she inherited a portion of the family farm and decided it was time to draft a will. She was proud to have graduated from Mount Mercy and knew she wanted to remember her alma mater through her estate.
In 1985, Pat became a charter member of the Heritage Club which recognizes individuals who have included Mount Mercy in their estate plans or who have made a significant gift to the institution's endowment.
Pat's paver on the Rohde Family Plaza permanently records her affection: "Four Years, A Lifetime of Memories."
Her pride grew even stronger when her nephew, Jon Strang, graduated from Mount Mercy in 1988. Pat's enthusiasm continues in retirement. She has run half marathons, enjoys biking, traveling, volunteering and following the Iowa Hawkeyes and Green Bay Packers.
Over the years, Pat has updated her will to increase her consideration for Mount Mercy. She has designated a significant portion of her estate to benefit the same areas that she has supported throughout her life-scholarships, campus ministry, athletics and capital improvements.
If you would like to extend your support of Mount Mercy and make a lasting impact through education, contact Lonna Drewelow at (319) 368-6468 or email@example.com to discuss a charitable plan that reflects your priorities and advances the mission of Mount Mercy University.