Record-setting John Mahoney Scholarship fund established at QU

The late John Mahoney was a 1966 graduate of Quincy College — now Quincy University. The school announced Thursday that anonymous donor has established the John Mahoney Scholarship for students majoring humanities with an investment of more than $900,000. | Submitted Photo
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 8, 2019 3:10 pm

QUINCY -- The late John Mahoney will forever be remembered at Quincy University.

An anonymous donor has established the John Mahoney Scholarship for students majoring in the humanities -- with an investment of more than $900,000.

The record-breaking donation has created the largest endowed scholarship at QU and is more than double the size of the next largest scholarship.

Mahoney was a 1966 Quincy College -- now Quincy University -- graduate who is arguably best remembered for his iconic role of Martin Crane on the NBC sitcom "Frasier".

Mahoney died in 2018 at the age of 77.

"We thank our anonymous donor for creating such a generous and significant tribute to the life and accomplishments of one of our most beloved QU alumni, John Mahoney," said Brian McGee, first-year president of the university. "This large scholarship program will allow generations of future students to follow Mahoney's path and to pursue excellence in the humanities. I am delighted that Mahoney can be honored in this way."

Prior to appearing on "Frasier," Mahoney had several major film roles in movies such as "Tin Men," "Suspect," "Moonstruck" "Eight Men Out," "Say Anything...," "In the Line of Fire, "Reality Bites" and "The American President."

Mahoney worked his way through college and often struggled to make ends meet, according to information provided by his family. The care and generosity provided by QU's Franciscan friars stayed with Mahoney throughout his life.

In a letter to fellow alumni, Mahoney once wrote, "Quincy University prepared me for anything I ever wanted to do in my life. It gave me wide-ranging knowledge, which has formed a broad educational base for my work as an actor. Many schools talk about their values and their caring atmospheres, but I experienced it directly. I'm a better person for having attended Quincy University."

Despite his rise to fame, Mahoney never forgot his humble beginnings or his love for his alma mater.

"John had wonderful, warm memories of Quincy University, and I think he left a little piece of his heart there," said Patricia Sullivan-Viniard, Mahoney's niece. "He always spoke highly of the faculty and staff who were so kind to him."

Mahoney was a dedicated and loyal QU alum who never shied away from helping his alma mater. In addition to his financial support of the university over the years, Mahoney often appeared at alumni gatherings involving one of his many plays or productions. He was the 1989 commencement speaker and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters. In recent years, he served as the honorary chair of the Forever Forward capital campaign that raised more than $25 million for QU.

"We are so grateful to this kind and generous donor for paying tribute to John Mahoney's love for Quincy University, and especially the Franciscans who helped him during his college years," said Julie Bell, QU vice president for advancement.

Mahoney was a lifelong advocate for the humanities. His family knows he would be pleased and humbled to have a scholarship in his name that will help countless QU students.

"John's family is thrilled at this gift to Quincy University in his name. We loved John and love QU," Sullivan-Viniard said. "Throughout his life, John Mahoney quietly helped many people who were in need, so the scholarship program is a very fitting legacy."

Mahoney was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, in June 1940, in the middle of the German blitz. Mahoney immigrated to the United States in 1959, at the age of 19. After serving in the Army for three years, he enrolled at QU, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English and became a teacher. He also served as an editor for a medical journal.

"John Mahoney was an inspiration in many ways," Sullivan-Viniard said. "In his 30s, he left a secure job to take a huge leap of faith into acting. It turned out well, but the success he experienced was certainly not guaranteed. His actions remind us that it's never too late to follow your dreams."

Mahoney enrolled in acting classes at the St. Nicholas Theater and joined Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre in 1979, where he appeared in more than 20 productions. In 1986, Mahoney won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in the Broadway production of "The House of Blue Leaves."