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Honoring a Professor who Influenced His Life

Honoring a Professor who Influenced His Life
Jim Kurpius ’60 was born and raised on a farm in Staples, Minn. At 14, he contracted polio and began using a wheelchair. As he progressed through high school, Jim considered his options for the future: live at home and attend the local community college or pursue a four-year college degree.

St. Thomas invited Jim to tour, but in the late 1950s, the campus wasn’t handicapped-accessible. Admissions Counselor John Madigan promised Jim access and acceptance.

Jim majored in accounting and was active in student life. He took freshman English from Professor Paul Hague, who valued Jim’s writing skills as a sportswriter for The Aquin and tapped him to be yearbook editor. Jim said, “I enjoyed Paul as a thoughtful and concerned human being, professor, and yearbook adviser. He took a personal interest in the success of every student. Paul contributed to making my campus life at St. Thomas a much richer experience.”

After moving to Palo Alto, Calif., Jim had limited contact with St. Thomas until just before his 40-year reunion, when a St. Thomas representative contacted him. Over lunch, Jim’s memories were rekindled.

“I began to realize the degree to which St. Thomas had changed the direction of my life, giving me the opportunity to receive a great liberal arts education, which prepared me for graduate school and a successful business career.”

Jim named St. Thomas the beneficiary of his qualified retirement plan, which will be used to supplement the Kurpius Family Endowed Scholarship that he established in 2000 to inspire students with disabilities to pursue a liberal arts education.

Jim hopes that the satisfaction he has received in creating endowed scholarships will motivate the recipients to give back, as well as other alumni who have not yet been exposed to the benefits of charitable estate planning.