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Jane Atwood O'Connell

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As a student at the Oshkosh Teachers College from 1931 to 1934, it is unlikely Jane Atwood thought about making a planned gift to benefit future generations of students. But, over time, that’s exactly what she did. In 2009, the UW Oshkosh Foundation received a gift of more than $500,000 from the estate of Jane Atwood O’Connell, upon her death at the age of 94, creating a living legacy for future generations.
Jane Atwood O'Connell

Jane Atwood O'Connell

Jane’s estate gift has been used to renovate the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Polk Library’s 7,600-square-foot circulation area and lobby and to create an endowment for digital, educational and research materials. The bequest is the largest in Polk Library history and will impact countless students who use the library daily for years to come.

The library’s circulation area received new flooring, seating and lighting, two stand-up stations for catalog searches, a new circulation desk and upholstered benches. The lobby received a facelift that includes new graphics and seating for students.

“The gift allows us to transform one of the busiest study areas of the library into a much better learning environment where students can comfortably work alone or in small groups,” said Library Director Patrick Wilkinson. “Meanwhile, funds from the endowment will help us provide students and faculty with the information that they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Generous gifts, such as the one from Jane O’Connell, help Polk Library support student and faculty success.”

Jane was a member of the Rose Legacy Society, the UW Oshkosh Foundation’s planned giving organization, which recognizes friends that include the University in their estate plans. As a student, Jane joined the Alethean Society, one the school’s oldest sororities. She also was a member of the French Club and was elected to the Athletic Committee despite not being an athlete in the Girls Athletic Association. In addition, she was an active member of the Alethean alumni group.

Her future husband, Andy O’Connell, attended the Oshkosh Teachers College from 1930 to 1933. He and Jane married in 1946. Although they had no children of their own, they ran a toy store in Dayton, Ohio, for nearly 20 years. Upon retirement they moved to Florida.

“Mrs. O’Connell’s gift is a wonderful tribute to the education she received at the University,” said Arthur H. Rathjen, president of the UW Oshkosh Foundation. “By creating this endowment and giving funds to renovate Polk Library through her estate plans, she has created a lasting legacy that will have a tremendous impact on future generations of UW Oshkosh students.”

by reinecka — last modified Aug 10, 2012 04:11 PM
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Contact the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation
625 Pearl Ave. Oshkosh, WI 54901 • Email:
Phone: (920) 424-2178