The O’Grady Library is named for the family of alumnus and benefactor Tom O’Grady. He and his wife, Kathleen, were the lead donors for the successful $10 million New Library Campaign in the late 1990s that funded construction of this building that is both the architectural highlight and the academic focus of the campus.
Tom O’Grady, a native of Chehalis, Washington, was a 1944 graduate of Saint Martin’s High School who attended Saint Martin’s College in 1945. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the College in 1989 for his extraordinary generosity and leadership for the school, and in 1995 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for service to Saint Martin’s.
When asked to provide Saint Martin’s administrators with a specific name for the facility before it opened, Tom and Kathleen chose not to use their names, but rather to have the name recognize his family. Commenting on that decision, Tom wrote: “I feel the O’Grady family, as a whole, has contributed to make possible the major gift we gave—not necessarily in money alone, but in the spirit and philosophy of life engendered in me through my mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and in the blessings of my own progeny. Besides, I think the greatest gift of a library is the familial spirit of its environment.”
The entire Saint Martin’s community was deeply saddened when Tom died in March 2000 at age 73, with the library project well on its way to completion and just a year before its dedication. Then-President David Spangler, said, “Tom was a guardian angel for Saint Martin’s. His love of this place and appreciation for all that the Benedictine monks did to help him when he was young was evidenced by his creative and nurturing involvement in recent years. Tom had a vision that looked beyond our limited perception to what might be. His generous philanthropy was always more than a gift—it was an encouragement to try new things and to change our institution for the better. At all levels he met people, found their strengths and supported those attributes until something outstanding resulted.”
Tom O’Grady spent his entire career with a Fortune 500 firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut, rising to vice chairman before his retirement in 1991.