The Shade Tree

A Tribute to the Sisters of Loretto

I was planted in 1915 by a Sister of Loretto—a sapling selected to stand before the entrance of a fledgling girls' college in Webster Groves, Missouri. I grew through the years—along with the college. I watched each autumn as young women arrived, nervously not knowing what to expect, then four years later, as they departed, confident and ready to make their mark on the world.

Often I overheard the Sisters of Loretto talk among themselves, describing the challenge of providing a quality education to their students. When these dedicated teachers determined that additional resources were needed to sustain their mission, I watched as they invited in the entire St. Louis community to join in their efforts. Imagine my pride when the university extended its mission throughout the nation—then opened its doors to the world!

As I look back, I realize how my growth has paralleled that of Webster University. In the early years, I provided shade to only a few students - today my branches shade many. Just as the wind has carried my seeds to far away places, Webster has spread its mission throughout the United States and on to distant corners of the globe.

Yet I realize that my branches cannot always shade Webster students - and I wonder how I may provide for those who come after me. Like you, I will plan for the future. I will nourish and plant a seed so that those who come after me will never want for shade.

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Ken Nickless
Director, Planned Giving