Francis Van Lieshout's parents had little formal education. And he had little regard for education — until he graduated from high school and enlisted in the Navy at 17. Francis told the recruitment office priest to place him in the toughest job. He thought he'd start at the top and work his way down to a position that fit. But a funny thing happened during his stint as a Navy hospital corpsman. A doctor was born.
Van Lieshout came to Marquette Medical School a member of the post-WWII freshman class of 1948. He worked harder than he'd imagined, prodded by, in his words, extraordinary Jesuits. One class, German, could have been his undoing if the teacher, Father Alban Dachauer, had given up. "I can still recite the 'Our Father' in German," Van Lieshout says and chuckles, "all because of him."
Francis and Josephine, Grad '51, married and would have had trouble making ends meet if Marquette hadn't given Francis a job working nights in the Medical School Library. "I have great gratitude for that. We had limited resources so every little bit helped," he remembers.
He went on from Marquette to open a Little Chute, Wis., practice that operated on an unusual model. They took no appointments but saw every sick person who came through the door — every day. The secret of his success, Van Lieshout says, was an office staff as committed to serving the sick as he was.
The Van Lieshouts have maintained strong ties to Marquette since Francis graduated in 1955. They are founding members of the St. Ignatius Legacy Society, members of the 1881 Society, and supporters of the Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art. Four of their seven children also came through Marquette. They further strengthened their ties by including Marquette in their estate planning. They'd like their gift to be used to help struggling students, a salute to their own educational experiences — and struggles.
"We want Marquette to continue providing education to children who don't have wealth and whose parents don't have the means to cover the costs. We also want to reward teachers by ensuring that they are getting competitive salaries," Francis explains. "We both feel it is very important to maintain our relationship with Marquette. We're products of Jesuit teaching. When I volunteer — in everything I do — my Jesuit education shows. We feel an obligation to make sure others have the same kind of experience."
Thomas and Patricia Packee
Bus Ad '64 and H Sci '65
Bus Ad '00
Arts '47 and Grad '49
Dr. Francis Van Lieshout
Bus Ad '66
Bus Ad '92