SI Alumni Use Named Funds to Remember Admired Relatives
Walter McCarthy ’33 and Bill Scannell ’48 are using named funds at SI to honor admired family members.
The Fr. Charles J. McCarthy, SJ ’29, Scholarship Fund honors an educator, scholar and twice-imprisoned Jesuit missionary.
The Florence Joseph Scannell and Priscilla Mary Scannell Scholarship Fund memorializes a San Francisco fireman who died fighting a New Year’s Eve blaze at St. Ignatius Church in 1931 and pays tribute to his widow who raised and educated their four children after his death.
“Fr. Charles was a hero to his family,” his brother Walter ’33 said. “He was a gifted writer and a scholar who came across as a regular guy. His nine nieces and nephews idolized him and all participated in the funding of the scholarship.”
Arriving in China in 1941, Fr. McCarthy ’29 spent two-and-a-half years in a Japanese concentration camp during WWII. In 1953, while rector of the Bellarmine Theologate in Shanghai, he was jailed again, this time by the Chinese Communists, serving four years in five prisons. He carried slightly more than 100 pounds on his 6-foot frame when freed in 1957, the San Francisco Examiner reported after his release.
“It was remarkable that he survived,” Walter McCarthy said. After regaining his health and strength in California, Fr. McCarthy served in the Philippines for more than 30 years, working for the assimilation and naturalization of Filipino-Chinese, writing three books on the Chinese in South East Asia, and heading various research and educational programs.
After his death in the Philippines in December of 1991, Fr. McCarthy’s family established the Scholarship Fund in his memory with an initial $12,500 contribution, bringing it up to the full scholarship level of $50,000 by adding contributions over the years.
“The important thing was to set up the Fund, and then add to it as we could,” Walter McCarthy said. “We did not want him to be forgotten.”
Bill Scannell set up the Florence Joseph Scannell and Pricilla Mary Scannell Scholarship Fund this year with an initial $20,000 contribution because he “wanted to do something to honor the memory of my parents. My father died in the St. Ignatius Church fire when I was a year old,” he said. “My mother raised and educated the four of us.”
His Irish-born fire-fighting father’s heroism was a given. Mr. Scannell wants his mother’s less visible courage remembered as well.
Mrs. Scannell was determined that her husband’s death not jeopardize her four children’s future. With her husband’s small pension from the City, supplemented with income from her seamstress work at her Richmond District home and later with income earned as a practical nurse specializing in maternity cases, she scraped together tuition for private schools for them.
“She sent me to SI, my two brothers to Sacred Heart High School, and my sister to the old St. Vincent’s High School,” Mr. Scannell said. A retired electrical engineer with a degree from SCU, he deeply appreciates his mother’s hard-earned investments in her children’s education.
“My oldest brother retired as Assistant Fire Chief in San Francisco and my other brother became Public Administrator and Public Guardian for the City and County of San Francisco.
“I chose SI to honor my parents because of the excellent education it offers,” he said. “I was the first in my family to go to college.”