Creating a Scholarship to Honor a Life Well Lived

Destiny PinkneyAlthough Jim (’56), originally from Waterloo, Iowa, and Audrey (Stenson) Smith, from Aberdeen, S.D., were both raised in the Midwest, it took each of them relocating to Southern California to meet. Jim had previously graduated from Loras College with a degree in psychology where he had been active in Delta Sigma, Student Senate, intramurals, the Social Committee and was class president. He was just out of the Marine Corps when he met Audrey, who was staying with her aunt and uncle. They were introduced at a Catholic young adults’ club. They married, ran two successful businesses, and raised four children during their nearly 56 years together. Sadly, Jim, an avid marathon runner, passed away last year due to complications from a short battle with leukemia.

“Jim always wanted to donate to Loras,” said Audrey, of Huntington Beach, Calif. “We never did, and I felt like [after his death] we needed to take care of that.” For Audrey, establishing the James and Audrey Smith endowed scholarship with a $50,000 pledge seemed to her like she was fulfilling Jim’s wishes. “Jim always loved Loras,” she continued. Audrey also shared that she and her family chose a scholarship “because it was meaningful to us. A lot of students can’t afford college. We can help the world by helping students become educated. It’s one way we feel we can make a difference.” Audrey said that she hopes the scholarship goes to “whoever needs it most.” She further explained that Jim had lost touch with the College for a number of years, but he had kept in contact with classmates. “When he got together with Msgr. Charles Lang, Ph.D. (’61), currently a part-time development officer, it made him realize what a good education he received.” When Jim was ill, Msgr. Lang got word and flew to California to personally administer to him the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Over the years, the Smiths have hosted a number of Loras events in their home for Southern California alumni, and Audrey plans to continue that tradition.

Audrey also intends to continue adding to the scholarship, and hopes their gift inspires others to make a special gift to Loras College. To support the James and Audrey Smith Scholarship, or discuss other opportunities, please contact Josh Boots (’04), associate vice president for institutional advancement, at 563.588.7329, or email