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Remembering Mrs. Doheny

This October marks 60 years since the passing of Estelle Doheny, the University's most generous and enduring benefactor

September 6, 2018

Doheny Student Body President Julie Giordano folds a tablecloth following a Doheny Day reception and lecture on Nov. 3, 1964. The event was held annually at the Doheny Campus to mark the anniversary of the death of Countess Estelle Doheny.
Doheny Student Body President Julie Giordano folds a tablecloth following a Doheny Day reception and lecture on Nov. 3, 1964. The event was held annually at the Doheny Campus to mark the anniversary of the death of Countess Estelle Doheny.

By Victoria McCargar, University archivist 

Oct. 30, 2018, marks 60 years since the passing of Estelle Doheny, the Mount’s most generous and enduring benefactor in the University’s 93-year history.   

Among the wealthiest women in the world, Mrs. Doheny chose to leave much of her fortune to support education, especially Catholic education. The best way to accomplish it was something to which she gave a lot of thought toward the end of her life.

According to her longtime secretary, Lucille Miller, the most difficult decision was what to do with her beloved Chester Place, her home for more than six decades. After a certain amount of agonizing and prayer, Mrs. Doheny decided to bequeath it to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, whose powerful head, Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, was a good friend.

Cardinal McIntyre was in Rome two years later when Mrs. Doheny died on Oct. 30, and had to leave the funeral details to his auxiliary bishop Timothy Manning in November. “It was beautifully carried out,” Manning wrote to McIntyre afterward. Mrs. Doheny “laid in state at her home… Over 600 Sisters paid their respects to her remains and the Rosary was said uninterruptedly” for two days. More than 1,200 people attended the funeral in St. Vincent’s Church.

Almost immediately, Mrs. Doheny’s mansion, No. 8 Chester Place, was turned over to the CSJs. The Mount’s Downtown Campus opened in September 1962, and the anniversary of Mrs. Doheny’s death was marked with an annual Doheny Day mass. In gratitude for the gift, Downtown Campus was rechristened the Doheny Campus in 1970.

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