“Mike was clique-proof.”
Reflecting on Mike Sakowski ’73 is a blessing for his family and close friends but also a little bit sad. “Always friendly to everyone,” Mike was an anchor of friendship to his classmates. His life ended too soon when he lost his hard-fought battle against pancreatic cancer in 2004.
As a way to honor and remember their close friend, Mary Jane (“MJ”) Keane and Dave Dupont founded the Sakowski Scholarship Fund and have grown it over the years by annual appeals to the Class of 1973. Each year, the two alumni gather at St. Thomas Aquinas to read and review applications for the scholarship. “We want to ensure that the scholarship carries on and maintains energy and life,” Dave and MJ share. “Mike was friendly to everyone. He was funny but not obnoxious. He was a great skier. He was just an altogether wonderful person who died much too soon.”
As MJ and Dave file through dozens of applicant essays every year, they look for candidates who demonstrate financial need but who also reflect Mike’s love of the outdoors and his qualities of humor and selflessness. “We feel this scholarship is a tribute to Mike and a way to carry forward his legacy of kindness.” As one scholarship applicant wrote, “I love feeling the wind blow through my hair and the sun shine upon my face. I am a person who gives without expecting anything in return and I believe in maintaining an attitude of fair-mindedness.”
Yesterday, St. Thomas Aquinas clasped an opportunity to once again thank the Sakowski family and friends for their generosity and support of our students. In honor of her upcoming 90th birthday, Mike’s mother Mary Noel Sakowski came and joined members of the Administration and Admissions Department in a birthday celebration. It was a gathering filled with special emotion and one that honored three elements of Life: purpose, loyalty, and legacy. The gathering included two current recipients of the Sakowski Scholarship- Trevor McAden ’18 and Andrew Capello ’19. Appropriately, Trevor helped Mary blow out her candles as yesterday was his birthday, too.
Connections amid and among the St. Thomas Aquinas Family run very deep. Yesterday’s luncheon with Mrs. Sakowski reminded all present that STA is far more than just a school- it is a repository for remarkable memories and a community laden with love.
Happy birthday, Mary.