Couple leaves $1 million to SEMO

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A couple educated at Southeast Missouri State University when it was a small teachers college in the 1930s has bequeathed $1 million to the school.

The gift came from the estate of James Harold and Lenore Osborne Paullus. It's one of the largest individual donations that the university has ever received, school officials said Tuesday.

The donation will fund three scholarships to benefit students majoring in biology, agriculture and home economics.

"The devotion and generosity of alumni and friends of the university is truly gratifying, and we are grateful to the Paullus family for their support of our academic programs," said Wayne Smith, vice president of university advancement and executive director of Southeast's fund-raising foundation.

James and Lenore Paullus grew up in Southeast Missouri but resided for many years in Rochelle, Ill.

James Paullus died in 1989 at the age of 79. Lenore Paullus then moved to Columbia, Mo., to be near relatives. She remained active up until her death in late 2005 at the age of 92, school officials said.

Trudy Lee, planned giving director for the university foundation, said the couple decided more than two decades ago to make such a donation to Southeast.

"They had a relationship with the university for many, many years," Lee said.

James Paullus graduated from Southeast in 1930 with an education degree. He taught in Fredericktown, Mo., and Crystal City, Mo., before deciding on a career in entomological research with Del Monte, the University of Illinois and other organizations.

Carter Dunkin, a nephew who lives in St. Louis, said his uncle had an infectious enthusiasm for learning.

"He always had a joy of discovery that seemed undiminished even as he neared his second retirement," Dunkin said. "No matter how much he knew about insects or any other subject for that matter, he reveled in adding anything to his knowledge."

Lenore Paullus attended Southeast for two years in the early 1930s. She transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia to finish her degree.

"She was a very interesting woman, very smart for her time," said Jane Stacy, director of alumni services and development at Southeast. She was a dietitian but often put her career on hold for the family, Stacy said.

"She was sort of like every woman back then; she followed in his footsteps," Stacy said.

Stacy said Lenore Paullus accompanied her husband on some of his research trips abroad. "Lenore was an intelligent, well-rounded woman who shared her husband's zest for learning throughout her life," Stacy said.

Stacy and other university officials often visited Lenore Paullus when they were in Columbia, and would dine out with her at her favorite restaurant. "We had a standing offer at Bob Evans in Columbia," Stacy said.

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