For years, a group of Trinity High School alumni tried to raise money to help renovate the all-girls school’s aging auditorium. The women, who took on this project, were part of the Class of 1963, the first to graduate in the auditorium. Their plan was to sell a seat, etching the buyer’s name on it as a token of appreciation, but it didn’t catch on and placed the project on hold, said Shena Keith, vice president of institutional advancement at Trinity, 7574 Division St., River Forest.
But something happened. Almost like a “blessing out of the sky,” said Keith, who spoke to Wednesday Journal just days before the unveiling of the new auditorium on March 20.
About two years ago, administrators at Trinity were told that a woman named Alice M. Fox left a $2 million bequest to them, money that would later be used to create a scholarship fund for their seniors and repair the 50-plus-year-old auditorium. Renovations to the auditorium, which included new carpeting, seating and a heating and cooling system, which were completed within the last year and unveiled to the community over the weekend. School officials held the ceremony Sunday, welcoming families into the new space, which seats more than 1,200 people and has been renamed the Dr. Alice M. Fox Auditorium.
But who exactly is Fox?
Keith, who remembered receiving the news of Fox’s generous donation, said Fox was a woman of many talents. For starters, she was a lifelong learner, a fierce advocate for women’s education and had a long, winding career in science.
Fox, who died in March 2020 at 96 years old, held various degrees, including a PhD in philosophy from St. Louis University and a nursing degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Fox took her vows as a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and taught at an all-women’s college. She had an interest in heart disease and once led teams of women to help investigate the causes and treatments of heart disease, according to a school news release.
Trinity administrators discovered something else about Fox. She grew up in Chicago and attended Immaculata High School, an all-girls school on the near North Side that closed about 40 years ago. Keith said Fox was looking for another all-girls school to support, which was how she found Trinity in suburban River Forest.
“We’re incredibly grateful to have received this gift. [Fox] was an incredible woman, very generous, very smart,” Keith said. “She’s such a great role model for our students.”
Keith said the new space is a testament to the “love and dedication and commitment” of Trinity’s students, alumni and donors. She explained that students sold chocolate bars to raise the initial funds to build the auditorium back in the early 1960s, and students from that same era returned decades later to try and refurbish it for the next generation. And now with Fox’s donation, that dream has come to fruition. A chapter closed, but the story continues.
“They’re a part of something special,” Keith said.