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Press Release: Class of 2004 Bids Farewell to DeSales
Date: 5/25/2004

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Class of 2004 Bids Farewell to DeSales

DeSales University held its 36th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22, in Billera Hall on the Center Valley Campus. During the ceremony, Father Bernard O'Connor, OSFS, president, conferred degrees upon 368 graduating students, including 298 bachelor's and 70 master's. Members of the Class of 2004 were from 11 different states, including Pennsylvania. The class is the last group to have arrived on campus while the school was still named Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales.

Jim Murray, founder of Ronald MacDonald House in Philadelphia and former general manager for the Philadelphia Eagles, gave the commencement address. In his remarks, Murray told graduates to cherish and love this special day. He urged them to be enthusiastic and passionate about life, and steadfast in their faith.

"Everything is about you earning this degree," said Murray. "Your degree is the genesis, the beginning. It's all you've worked for."

Senior class president, Katelyn Finnegan, TV / film major from Rockledge, Pa.,  also addressed her classmates and asked them to remain "strong, smart and spiritual friends" and to "never give less than 110 percent."

Honorary doctor of humane letters degrees were awarded to Murray and also to Robert C. Wood, chairman of Wood Dining Services, and Marlene O. "Linny" Fowler, local philanthropist.

Murray, a native of Philadelphia, is president of Jim Murray Ltd, a sports promotion and marketing firm. After graduating from Villanova University in 1960, he began his career in sports administration with the Tidewater Tides of baseball's Sally League. Following a stint of active duty with the Marine Corps Reserve, he returned to baseball as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Crackers, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1964, he left baseball to enter the restaurant business, but returned to Villanova as sports information director in 1966.  In 1969, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles' public relations staff and became the NFL team's administrative assistant two years later. In 1974, five years after joining the organization, Murray was named general manager for the Eagles.

For more than nine years, Murray served as general manager and took the franchise from the NFL's cellar to Super Bowl heights. In 1976, he and owner Leonard Tose hired Dick Vermeil as head coach. From 1978 through 1981, the Eagles made the NFL playoffs under Murray's guidance. After the 1980 season, the Eagles played the Raiders in Super Bowl XV, which was the only Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's history. Murray left the Eagles in 1983, after 14 years with the organization.

While with the Eagles, Murray helped start the successful Eagles Fly for Leukemia campaign and founded the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, in 1974. There are now 200 houses worldwide where families of children, who are undergoing treatment for various illnesses at nearby hospitals, can stay at little or no cost.

Among his numerous honors and awards are the first annual Leonard Tose Award in 2002, Citizen of the Year Award from the American Medical Association in 1999, and President Ronald Reagan's Medal for Volunteers of America in 1987. He was inducted into the Philadelphia City All-Star Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Murray and his wife, Dianne, reside in Rosemont, Pa. They have five children and three grandchildren.

Linny Fowler has been an advocate of children's welfare in the Lehigh Valley area for more than 30 years. Her philanthropy is evident in various institutions throughout the Lehigh Valley, including the Fowler Education Center at the Banana Factory and St. Luke's Fowler Family Museum, a history of St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, among others.

A native of New York City, she began her volunteer work at Head Start in the Bethlehem area in 1967, and was one of the founders of the Lehigh Valley Coalition for Kids. She tutored and volunteered at Hogar Crea and was active with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. She also serves on the boards of Valley Youth House, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Lehigh Valley Child Care and the Arts Quest Board and Foundation, among others.

Her numerous honors and awards include the Bethlehem Area School District "Friend to BASD Award" in 2003, the Allentown Art Museum Award in 2002, and the National Society of Fundraising Executives Philanthropist of the Year Award in 1997. In 1995, she was chosen by the YWCA committee to be the inaugural recipient of the Golden Laurel Award.

Fowler earned a bachelor's of arts degree in biology from Skidmore College. She is co-owner of Fowler & Pena Creations, a stained glass business creating pieces for private collections, churches and other institutions. She is married to Beall Fowler, a retired professor of physics at Lehigh University. They have four children and 11 grandchildren.

Wood, a native of Allentown, became chairman of The Wood Co. in 1999, following his father, M.W. "Scotty" Wood, who founded the company in Allentown in 1940. The business became even more lucrative, when it began supplying school dining services in the 1950s. Presently, the Wood Co. is the fourth largest food service company in the United States. It has about 1,800 employees in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and about 16,000 total employees in 11 states, mostly in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, with annual sales of about $650 million. In 2001, Wood Co. was acquired by the French company Sodexho Alliance, the largest catering company in the world.

After earning a bachelor's degree in hotel administration from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in 1967, and worked as a sous chef at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, now DeSales University. He worked his way up to executive vice president and president, before being named chairman.

Wood has been a member of numerous civic and professional organizations, including the Community & Economic Development Cabinet for the City of Allentown, National Restaurant Association, Sacred Heart Hospital Board of Associates and is a trustee for the Trexler Trust. In 1996, he became a member of the American Culinary Federation and Foodservice Management Professional.

His honors and awards include the National Society of Fund Raising Executives Outstanding Corporation Award in 2000 and Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Community Service Award in 2000. Wood is the father of two sons and two daughters.

Press Release: Class of 2004 Bids Farewell to DeSales | Posted on: 5/25/2004

For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive D
irector of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu

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