SI’s Parent Clubs

The Loyola Guild

The Loyola Guild began in October 1925 for mothers of sons who attended either the high school or the college (though wives of graduates and lay professors could join as well). According to the1925 Ignatian, the group existed to “foster a deeper acquaintance with all in touch with St. Ignatius College, and to cooperate with its officers to the effect that faculty and parents may work in harmony for the best interests of the school and students.” They held a monthly meeting followed by a concert or a lecture and raised money in all sorts of ways to help the Jesuits. During the Depression they held a bake sale to help the school pay its electrical bill. One year, the mothers raised enough money to buy uniforms for the college band. “Back in the 1920s, these mothers had a great love for the Jesuits and their mission, just as we still have today,” said Guild President Connie Mack.

At its peak, the Guild boasted 1,200 members and was one of the elite women’s clubs in San Francisco. “It was a white-glove organization,” added Mrs. Mack. “The Guild’s annual tea at the Palace Hotel drew a thousand women and sold out every year at $5 a ticket. For many women, it was the club to join.”

Currently the group has 750 members across the country and raises money to endow scholarships at SI and USF. The group held a gala celebration at SI in 2000 to mark their 75th anniversary, drawing 15 past presidents including Katherine Walsh, who would soon celebrate her 100th birthday.

The Guild still organizes rummage sales, Christmas house tours and fashion shows to raise funds, each year collecting approximately $15,000 to split between SI and USF. Since its inception, the group has raised nearly $500,000 for SI alone, providing 375 full scholarships to SI students in addition to 750 partial scholarships to students at USF.

The Ignatian Guild

In 1959, when SI formally split from USF, Fr. Patrick Carroll created a subcommittee of the Loyola Guild made up of SI mothers who would raise funds only for SI, and he asked Mrs. Dorothy Leonardini to serve as the group’s first president. In 1961, this subcommittee became a separate group, the Mothers’ Advisory Council, and the following year its name changed to the St. Ignatius Mothers’ Club. Three years later, in 1965, Theresa Caldarola — who had a passion for helping educational causes — pioneered the Ignatian Guild and oversaw the creation of the group’s constitution and by-laws. That year the group held a celebrity auction and, at the Fairmont Hotel, its first fashion show, sponsored by Lili of Shanghai. The raffle for the event earned $20,000 to support the school.

The Ignatian Guild continues to hold two successful fashion shows each year — a Saturday dinner and a Sunday luncheon — during the first weekend of November. It also sponsors many other events, including the International Food Faire, which celebrates the diverse cultures that make up the SI community.

The Ignatian Guild also ran Stagecoach West, which started in 1972. The fund-raising dinner featured the Wells Fargo stagecoach, a Western barbeque, gaming tables and dancing. It also sold a cookbook for $5 entitled Food for Thought, assembled by its members and featuring recipes such as Mulligatawny Soup by Mrs. Jerry Cole and Potage Vichyssoise Josephine, by Mrs. Josephine Araldo (a Cordon Bleu graduate and French cooking instructor). The book received favorable reviews in the press, including one from James Beard of the Examiner. In 1977, the Ignatian Guild put out a second edition of the book with additional recipes.

Other Ignatian Guild fund raisers over the years have included the Dorothy Leonardini Scholarship Fund, the Salesmen’s Samples Sale, the annual Christmas Celebration in the Carlin Commons and the Rummage Sale at the Hall of Flowers — run jointly by the Ignatian and Loyola Guilds. The Ignatian Guild also sponsors a Day of Recollection each year for its members and celebrates new officers at an installation Mass and luncheon in May. Other Guild events include the mother-student communion breakfast, the mother-daughter night and the mother-son night.

The Fathers’ Club

The school began a new tradition in 1937 with the institution of Father’s Night, featuring science project displays, elocution contests, Sodality activities, and performances by actors, singers, musicians and members of the ROTC. This was a return, of sorts, to the three-day commencement ceremonies that ended the terms for SI students who graduated from the Market Street and Van Ness Avenue campuses. Two years later, the event evolved into the annual Fathers’ Club Talent Show, where students competed for prizes. Fr. Harold E. Ring, SJ, president of SI and USF at the time, hoped that it would become the foundation of an SI Fathers’ Club. The night also featured a sports review and a talk by Fr. William Dunne, SJ, who would succeed Ring as president. The April 1939 Monthly Calendar for St. Ignatius Church reported that “no alumni meeting brings together more of the ‘Old Boys’ than Fathers’ Night at the High School. The fathers are always surprised to find out what their sons are doing and what they can do in a modern high school. Fathers’ Night is only three years old, but each time it has been an overwhelming success.”

The Fathers’ Club formally began in 1948 in part to help SI complete the fund-raising drive to build the gym. (By then, the school only had one-fifth of the money needed.) Edward Turkington, father of Ned Turkington ’49, was one of the founders of the Fathers’ Club, according to Edward’s grandson, Ted Turkington (who joined SI in 2003 as the head varsity baseball coach). The group received help from its first moderator, Fr. Fred Cosgrove, SJ, and organized a Father-Son Communion Breakfast in October 1948, with more than 700 attending the Mass and outdoor feast that followed. Before the November Poly football game, the group organized a rally, held in the St. Dominic’s auditorium. According to the 1949 Ignatian, the group also offered sports clinics, a picnic and an Ignatian Heights Talent Show featuring “vaudeville, music, mimicry and general entertainment.” By the 1950s, with the help of moderator Donald O’Gara, SJ, the Fathers’ Club also sponsored dinner dances, a festival and the Cana Conferences.

The group earned money for the school in the 1950s by using the SI schoolyard to park cars for the ’49er games at Kezar. Dr. Elmer Bricca, president in 1954–55 (the uncle of Steve Leveroni ’69, who served as president in 2003–2004) had the dads park the cars together as close as they could. “They would then leave until the game ended,” said Leveroni. “Someone invariably would want to leave early, and mass confusion would ensue.”

The group launched the Cadillac Raffle in 1957 when Fathers’ Club President Bernard McCann ’31 and Remo Tocchini (president in 1958) persuaded a local dealer to donate a car to the school. The first winners, who split a ticket, were Ernest Granucci and Dr. Leo Chelini, both relatives of Steve Leveroni. This event continued as the group’s primary fund raiser until the 1980s.

The Fathers’ Club arranged to have Jim Nabors (TV’s Gomer Pyle) come to the 1966 Cadillac Raffle, where Nabors drew the winning ticket; the event raised $20,000 for the school.

In 1970, after the school moved to its new quarters, SI inaugurated an auction, raising $40,000 that year. The first chairman was Joseph R. Bisho with Mrs. Eugene J. Marty, Jr., and Mrs. L. Cal Lalanne serving as co-chairs. The Ignatian Guild continued this event for a number of years. Then in 1997, the Fathers’ Club began sponsoring the auction, and it has become one of the most important fund raisers for the school thanks to auction chairmen Fred Tocchini ’66, Al Clifford ’73, Scott Erickson ’73, Joe McMonigle, Joe Toboni ’70, Bert Keane ’68, Sal Rizzo and David Pacini. In 2004, the auction helped raise more than a half million dollars to help the Genesis IV endowment campaign. These sold-out auctions have also been successful at bringing diverse members of the SI community together to create a fun-filled evening of food, entertainment and fast-paced bidding.

The Fathers’ Club, moderated by Br. Douglas Draper, SJ, since 1971, holds several major gatherings each year for its members, including two barbecues, a Crab ’n’ Cards night and a father-son dinner featuring a guest speaker. (In 2004, ’49ers’ quarterback Joe Montana spoke of his relationship with his father and regaled the audience with stories of his days playing at Candlestick Park.)

In 1993 the Fathers’ Club began running the concession stand during the football and basketball games, with proceeds benefiting the school, and it joins with the SHC parents’ club to run concessions during the Bruce-Mahoney football game at Kezar.

Fred Tocchini ’66, who followed in his dad’s footsteps as Fathers’ Club president, thinks that the group has become successful over the years because of the “vast resources that lie within the parent community. Also, the group has camaraderie because members are willing to be a part of this long tradition of service to the school. Not everyone can write a big check, but many are willing and able to work hard to help SI in whatever way they can.”

For Tocchini, who served as chairman of the Sesquicentennial Committee and Regent, being a member and president of the Fathers’ Club “was an important part of my life. My older brothers attended SI in the 1950s, and I felt a part of the SI community even before I attended the school.”

Postscript: After the publication of the book, former Fathers’ Club president Steven Cannata ’66 wrote to praise Steve Nejasmich ’65, former SI principal, for his role in opening the Fathers’ Club to general membership in 1994, “a decision that significantly expanded participation in the SI community (and, among other things, revitalized the annual auction, which was dying a slow death in the early ’90s. For a substantial period of time, at least 10 years, the Fathers’ Club consisted of a ‘select’ group of approximately 20 members who met every quarter or so and planned certain school-wide events… a very exclusive and closed off [group]. The ‘old boy’ composition of hte Fathers’ Club was the source of much resentment among fathers who wanted to participate and be part of the SI community only to hit a dead end when making inquiries about joining this elusive organization. When I was elected president in 1994, Fr. Nejasmich, like the proverbial bull in the china shop, dropped in unannounced during the year’s first meeting of the Fathers’ Club and, in his inimitable way, bluntly advised the attendees that we should change the name of the Fathers’ Club to ‘Boosters’ Club’ as the 20 of us sitting around the conference table hardly constituted a ‘Fathers’ Club’ given the school’s enrollment of approximately 1,500 students. Alternatively, if we wished to keep the title of Fathers’ Club, Fr. Nejasmich advised that we would need to open the organization to general membership. Of course, despite the belated introduction of this possibility, this latter alternative was the much preferred choice, as some members on the board did want to open the Fathers’ Club to general membership. From that point onward, Fr. Nejasmich approved every proposal we brought to his attention and very enthusiastically supported our efforts to expand the membership and activities of the Club. Br. Draper was equally supportive. Staffing the concession stands at school events, initiating new activities such as Crab ‘n’ Cards Night and year-end BBQs for incoming freshmen fathers all received an unconditional green light from him. No one could have asked for more support in our efforts to enlist fathers into the club, some of whom still harbored a lingering resentment for past slights. Fr. Nejasmich, in no uncertain terms, is the true ‘Godfather’ of the Fathers’ Club, and I was disappointed that he was not given any recognition in the book for his role in making the Fathers’ Club an inclusive organization and introducing hundreds of new members into the St. Ignatius community.”