The annual Founders' Association Dinner at the Franciscan University of Steubenville has fulfilled its simple mission each year since 1949: to draw the school and the civic communities together.
The school continued that tradition Saturday at the Gentile Gallery in the J.C. Williams Center when it presented this year's Founders' Award to the late Rose M. DeFede.
DeFede was involved at the university for 56 years before her death in August 2010, finding work as a secretary at the then-College of Steubenville shortly after she enrolled as a student.
The Wellsburg native also would be the school's cashier, accountant, the first bookstore manager, assistant to the treasurer, the first personnel manager, the first female controller, purchasing agent, director of business services, the first women to serve on the president's council, alumni director and other positions, including director of community development.
Her involvement did not stop at the university DeFede played important roles in the local chapter of the American Red Cross, the Council Churches, the Civic Choral Society, the Steubenville Players, the Steubenville Chapter of the Pittsburgh Opera Guild and the Assistance to Motherhood Center.
She also helped the United Way of Jefferson County raise hundreds of thousands of dollars as the university's point person.
DeFede was a fixture at campus activities, from singing the national anthem at commencement to presenting custom-written poems at retirement parties or other milestones.
Members of DeFede's family accepted the award in her memory on the same night that the school's Founders' Scholars and Rose M. DeFede Women's Guild Scholars were honored.
It is fitting that DeFede's selfless work has been recognized with the Founders' Award. It continues a legacy of recognizing service to the school and our area.