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2014 Alumnae Award winners announced

Reunion 2014: June 20-21
Reunion 2014: June 20-21
St. Catherine University

Each year since 1979, St. Catherine University has recognized outstanding graduates who demonstrate excellence in leadership and service to others; who play an influential role in family, profession, community, church or volunteer activities; and who live the ideals of St. Catherine University.

The 2014 Alumne Award honorees are Gloria DeVore '64, Nancy Jamieson '80 and Paula Bendry Larsen '64. The award winners will be honored at the President's Luncheon on June 21, part of the annual Reunion event. Alumnae, family and friends are invited to attend the President's Luncheon in support of our distinguished Alumnae Award winners.

Gloria DeVore ’64: Pioneer and innovator

St. Kate’s has a 60-year history of educating occupational therapy professionals, thanks in part to Gloria DeVore, OTR, who has given generously to the University while promoting advances in the field.

Early in her career, at the University of North Carolina, she helped develop the first comprehensive hand treatment center in the United States. In 1970, she helped establish the occupational and physical therapy department at the University of Arizona Medical Center. She later became one of the first occupational therapists in the nation to open a private, free-standing clinic when she started Hand Therapy Associates.

An innovator and advocate, DeVore was never afraid to step up when she encountered challenges. When the appropriate equipment for measuring and testing her clients didn’t exist, she worked with manufacturers to design and develop devices such as the goniometer. When her patients needed additional treatment sessions, she advocated with insurance providers for patient care.

“I had an outstanding career, thanks in large part to the superior teachers and top-notch education I received at St. Catherine,” says DeVore, who retired in 1995.

DeVore has left a lasting legacy on St. Kate’s campuses. She was instrumental in raising funds for the human anatomy lab in Mendel Hall and generously supported renovations to the occupational therapy space in Fontbonne Hall. During her career, she offered internships to St. Kate’s students, mentoring the next generation of occupational therapists.

“While the mission statement ‘to lead and influence’ did not exist while Ms. DeVore was a student at St. Kate’s, she is the personification of that mission,” says Sharon Stoffel ’67, a retired occupational therapy professor at St. Kate’s who nominated DeVore for the Alumnae Award. “Her ability to effectively lead others and influence the development of a new and highly respected area of healthcare is amazing.”

Nancy Jamieson ’80: Community leader

The story of Nancy Jamieson’s life is one of adventure and worldly experience. Between her graduation from St. Kate’s in 1980 and her return to Minnesota in 2006, Jamieson lived in three states and three foreign countries.

“It has been an exciting life,” she says. “Everything is a learning experience.”

But community — and family — are most important. Whether relocating to Hong Kong, Paris or Milan, Jamieson found herself craving connections in her new location. She learned it was important to get involved in her community to make friends, support others and continue to learn.

“My greatest accomplishment is my two children,” says Jamieson, referring to son Jamieson Cash, 29, and daughter Elizabeth Cash, 26. “They are self-sustaining adults who are living their passions and dreams. They grew up living in the world, and learned to take risks, make mistakes and always keep learning.”

A music and education major at St. Kate’s, she found that music is a common language around the globe. “Music has been my foundation,” she explains. “It has made me feel solid when my world would change.”

Jamieson has been involved in community theater and participated in groups that bring music to the elderly. In 1995 she co-founded Friends of the Arts, an organization that still supports the arts in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. 

Currently, Jamieson is serving as president of Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra (formerly WAMSO). Although the orchestra experienced well-known challenges the past couple of years, Jamieson helped position both the orchestra and its volunteer and fundraising arm for success.

Jamieson is a certified co-active coach, a job that allows her to spend time caring for her parents and continue her volunteer commitments. “Coaching combines everything I’ve done. I help others through challenges, when they need someone in their corner.”

Paula Bendry Larsen ’64: Volunteer and business owner

Paula Bendry Larsen has remained closely tied to the University since graduating with a degree in English and a minor in economics 50 years ago. She treasures the experiences, friendships and education she received as a Katie.

“Not everybody gets that opportunity,” she says.

Larsen has been a member of her class leadership team for 50 years, helping to plan Reunion events and assisting with fundraising efforts. She’s also a member of the Alumnae Council, serving on the Student-Alumnae Connections Committee.

Her parents taught Larsen the importance of giving to those in need — a value underscored by her professors and the Sisters of St. Joseph. Among the nonprofit organizations she has served are Hospitality House, the St. Joan of Arc Care Committee and Christmas with Dignity. She has even traveled to Capetown, South Africa, on mission trips with Arm in Arm.

“You always get more than you give,” Larsen says.

From 1985 to 2011, she ran the Earnie Larsen Life Management Center with her late husband Earnie Larsen, a was a well-known pioneer in the field of recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. He crafted books, presentations and videos while Paula ran the business that helped many addicts recover.

Earnie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010, and he began writing a series of letters to friends and colleagues. After he died, Paula compiled the letters, wrote additional content and published the book Earnie Larsen: His Last Steps.

Among her many contributions, Larsen is most proud of feeding the homeless through the Mobile Loaves and Fishes program. “I feel so blessed to be able to help in whatever way I can,” she says.

“Paula’s greatest gift is her humility and extreme generosity,” says Kathleen Hayes Coppo ’64, the classmate who nominated Larsen for the award. “Leading by example, she makes us feel like nothing is impossible.”

May 14, 2014 by Sara Berhow

See also: Alumnae/i, Leadership, Social Justice