Alum wills $7.5M to Aquinas Schools in La Crosse - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Alum wills $7.5M to Aquinas Schools in La Crosse

LA CROSSE (WXOW) - A graduate of Aquinas Schools remembers his alma mater in his will-to the sum of $7.5 Million dollars.

Aquinas Schools made the announcement Monday that they were the beneficiaries of the money from the estate of James Kiffe of La Crosse.  He was a 1942 graduate of Aquinas who passed away on October 6, 2011.

According to school officials, the majority of the money will go to the school's scholarship fund.

For students at Aquinas High School today was just a Monday.But for the administration it was much more.

They announced a $7.5 million donation by James Kiffe, an Aquinas alum who passed away in October of 2011.

"We had heard that we were in his will but we had no idea that the value of his estate was the size that it was," said Kurt Nelson, President of Aquinas Catholic Schools. "Or that basically the total estate was given to our schools."

About 6-million of Kiffe's estate will go into an Aquinas Scholarship fund. The goal is to help families facing financial hardships, like those James Kiffe faced as a child.

"He was the only child of a single working mom," Nelson said. "So he was able to attend our schools through scholarship help from another donor. And so he realized that and in 2002 he set up a scholarship fund for students who had either has a family job-loss, or medical issue or some kind of emergency."

The other 1 point 5 million dollars...with go to the Aquinas Catholic Schools Foundation where the board of directors will determine how to best use the money.

"We're going to be able to stand up for the various ways that we teach here at Aquinas," said Bishop William Callahan. "We're going to be able to open things up a little bit more as far as kids are concerned. Helping families, getting more families involved."

Bishop Callahan says Kiffe's generosity will be a lasting legacy.

"He's going to live on in the minds, the hearts, the lives of all these students," Callahan said. "He's going to touch a lot of lives."

 At the end of this month, Kiffe will be honored with the Saint Thomas Aquinas Award; the highest honor given out by the Catholic school organization.

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