Our engagement with alumni, donors and friends often grows into special relationships with common bonds. The important partners have a profound impact on Boise State in many ways. We cherish these relationships, and consider them members of our extended family. Like members of our birth family, we share life’s celebrations such as reaching personal goals, including the new job following graduation, to the marriage and births of children, to other countless successes of personal and career achievements. We also are here, just like a family, to share in the more difficult times including the loss of our Bronco sisters and brothers. Recently, we shared in the mourning and certainly the fond remembrances and celebration of the lives of two of our Bronco family members who passed; Marilyn Shuler and Margaret “Marge” McDonagh.
Marilyn, as many of our family can attest, was a dedicated public servant who spent years advocating for human rights in Idaho. She led the Idaho Human Rights Commission for 20 years, co-founded a book club for human rights, and served on the charter board for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State.
Her dedication to helping uplift the lives of others includes volunteer service on numerous Boise State boards, as well as the Boise State Public Radio advisory board, and the School of Public Service board. A member of the Barnwell Society for donors at Boise State, she also is a silver medallion and distinguished alumni honoree. Marilyn was conferred with honorary doctorate in 2014. Her long list of career accomplishments is notable, and the impact she made in her community, and here at Boise State will endure for generations.
While speaking to graduates during commencement ceremonies in 2014, she imparted them with advice to think of others as they go forward following graduation. Quoting author Robert Fulghum, Marilyn said, “Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours…” Like these words, Marilyn’s life reflected the simple, yet powerful message of inclusion, equality and kindness toward all.
I met Marilyn in late 2012 at one of our President’s Club events. Then I would run into her regularly at activities of the Osher Institute, Boise State Public Radio, the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation— everywhere there were people dong good things. I came to appreciate her steadfast support of causes and organizations in which she believed. I learned that Marilyn didn’t just show up ¾ Marilyn was invested. It wasn’t until the post-commencement luncheon celebrating her Boise State honorary doctorate that I realized the enormity of her investment and the profound impact she had on so many. I’d read her bio and articles written about her, and they were very, very impressive. But hearing her sons and her closest friends and colleagues stand up at lunch and give personal testimony about her personal and professional accomplishments was awe-inspiring. I feel privileged to have known her and am certain — and grateful — that her legacy will continue to have a tremendous lasting impact.
Services for Marilyn will be held on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. in the Jordan Ballroom Student Union Building at Boise State University.
We also celebrate the life of our friend and Bronco family member Marge McDonagh. Marge, also known among family and friends as Maggie, and Bob or “Old Coot” as he prefers to be called, are longtime supporters of Boise State. Maggie and Old Coot were two of the very first Boise State donors I met when I moved here in 2012. They have a special place in my heart because they went out of their way to make me feel welcome in my new home. Maggie would reach out with special touches — a box of chocolates at Christmas time, an inquiry about my canine child — just to let me know she cared. Nurturing seemed to come naturally to her and, perhaps, that’s what led her to a career in nursing. Maggie was a registered nurse who worked for several physicians at the Caldwell Memorial Hospital and she shared her career experience as a member of the Friends of Nursing advisory board for the College of Health Sciences.
Once, when I still didn’t know many people here, I invited Old Coot and Maggie to join me at a basketball game in Taco Bell Arena. Maggie was so kind and humble in declining my invitation saying that I should invite someone else who might not otherwise attend the game; she and Old Coot didn’t need any special treatment. When I arrived at the game, I understood why, in addition to what she’d told me, she’d declined my invitation. There were Old Coot and Maggie sitting in their court-side seats! I then always looked forward to seeing and waving to them across the court. If Old Coot and Maggie were there, all was right with the world.
Maggie’s impact on Boise State came in very personal ways, reflecting her values and humility, through the quiet support of many, many students through scholarships, facilities and programs for student-athletes, future nurses, students showing innovative approaches to their education, and lifelong learners. With Old Coot by her side, she was changing the world one life at a time.
In the loss of such giants as Marilyn and Maggie, I take comfort in seeing their impact and legacy live on in the lives and communities they’ve enriched. God speed, dear friends. And thank you.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.