Gift Planning - Meet Our Donors

Renee O'Leary

ReneeRenee O’Leary is a very busy lady.  She is in her 16th year of teaching science at Caravel Academy in an early childhood enrichment program she designed herself.  She travels extensively to train and motivate lower school science teachers on the techniques she created to provide hands-on science instruction to students beginning in kindergarten.  She is active with her church, the Newark Rotary Club and the Chapel Street Players, and in addition to all of that, she manages to attend every UD home football game as a longtime season ticket holder and die-hard Blue Hen fan.

Renee grew up in Turtle Creek PA, and as a child dreamed of marrying a doctor and living in a house on a hill in a college town.  Renee graduated from Millersville University and later earned a Ph. D. from LaSalle University.  Renee’s vision of marrying a doctor became reality when she met Jack O’Leary when he posted a note at Millersville looking for someone to share a ride to Pittsburgh, and Renee answered the posting!  They married and the couple moved to Newark when Jack was a resident at Delaware Hospital (now Wilmington Hospital), and bought their house on a hill.  Jack maintained a private practice in oral maxillofacial surgery, and also served as head of that department at Christiana Care for 17 years.

Jack and Renee adopted Newark as their hometown, and began their careers and their relationship with the city.  Renee taught school and was named Teacher of the Year in 1982. Jack developed a friendship with the Delaware football team’s physician, as he and Renee enjoyed the UD football games.  At the request of Dr. C. Roy Donoho, the longtime team physician of the Blue Hens, Jack developed a protective mouth guard for the players, and the bond between the O’Learys and UD football was cemented.  Jack provided the mouth guards for many years, and operated on numerous players who sustained facial injuries while on the field at Delaware.

Jack and Renee’s love for the University grew over the years, and when they made their estate plans, they included a bequest for UD.  “We wanted to give back to what had made us happy, what had given us joy.  That included Jack’s relationship with the football team.  We lived here for so many years – this is our town – and we support football because we became a part of it, we had a connection to it,” explained Renee.  Though Jack passed away in 2007, Renee continues her commitment to UD, attending many campus events, as well as all of the football games, and maintains annual gifts to both UD football and women’s basketball, and the UD Initiative Fund. 

“Jack and I both worked very hard during our lives.  There was always a time for work and a time for play, but work always came first.  And we were so fortunate to have had success in our careers,” Renee explained.  “And we learned that to have much is wonderful, but to give it away is the very best reward you can receive, because of the feeling you get inside.  It was so important to us to be a part of giving someone else a chance – we were both given chances in our lives, and were so grateful for that. It’s the feeling that money can’t buy, the knowledge that you have made a difference in someone’s life that might lead to a better tomorrow.”


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