.bythenumbers { color: #aa0016; display: inline; font-family: Georgia,"Times New Roman",Times,serif; font-size: 2em; left: 0; position: relative; } Skip to main content

Breadcrumb navigation:

A Dedication to Faith and Service

Simboli Hall Named for Longtime Benefactor

Simboli Hall
Tony Simboli ’50, MA’50, and his wife, Gloria, with University President William P. Leahy, S.J., at the dedication of Simboli Hall.

Foreign intelligence officer, retail pioneer, visionary real estate developer—over the course of his career, Anthony C. “Tony” Simboli ’50, MA’50, has worn many hats. But through it all, he has remained a loyal son of Boston College.

“I grew up at a time when we had no guidance counselors, we had no college prep courses,” says Simboli. “I was fortunate to find BC and the Jesuits. They taught me discipline and provided a moral compass that was key to my success.”

Now, Simboli and his wife, Gloria, have been recognized for their lifetime of giving with the naming of Simboli Hall, which houses the School of Theology and Ministry and the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies on Brighton Campus. The new name was unveiled Sept. 16, with University President William P. Leahy, S.J.; University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, S.J.; and STM Dean Mark Massa, S.J., joining students, faculty, and trustees for a commemorative Mass and dedication ceremony.

For Simboli, it was a poignant way to honor his connection with the University and the Jesuits who continue to be such an influence in his life.

“I think this place is the most important part of Boston College,” says Simboli. “Not the building itself, but the men and women inside who are committed to the study of truth.”

“We celebrate Tony and Gloria Simboli and their family for their longtime partnership with Boston College. Their generosity is a call for all of us to rededicate ourselves to faith, service, and intellectual excellence, the hallmarks of a Jesuit, Catholic education.” —University President William P. Leahy, S.J.

On the Fast Track

From his early years in Boston’s North End, Simboli had a desire to learn. Classes came easily, so he spent much of his time helping teachers and tutoring classmates. At the age of 16, he left high school to become the youngest in his class at BC.

Like many in his generation, Simboli worked his way through college, including pulling night shifts at a local print shop. But he didn’t let his jobs get in the way of his studies.

“I had index cards taped all over the presses, so I could study while I worked,” he says.

At BC, Simboli cut costs whenever possible, hitchhiking home to save the trolley fare, selling his own “Cliffs Notes” for a challenging psychology course, and borrowing all but a handful of textbooks from Boston’s public library in Copley Square.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in January 1950, he completed a master’s in philosophy—typically a two-year program—in just two semesters, becoming the only known alumnus in BC’s history to earn two separate degrees in the same year.

While in graduate school, he met Gloria when she was playing checkers at a North End community center. Seeing she was losing, Simboli stepped in and won the game for her, and the rest, he says, was history: “I asked her for her name and address, two dates later I told her I was going to marry her, and about a year later, I did.”

The same grit that earned him two degrees by age 20 also caught the attention of the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency, which recruited him as a foreign intelligence agent. Having rarely ventured further from home than BC's Chestnut Hill campus, serving as a Cold War spy in Japan and Washington, D.C., was a formative experience.

He rose quickly through the ranks, but after seven years in the CIA he grew eager for new challenges and returned home, where he bought a drugstore in Wakefield, Mass.

By the early 1960s, Simboli had established a growing network of drugstores and convenience food stores—an innovative concept at that time—and began investing in real estate.

With a focus on urban redevelopment, Simboli concentrated his efforts on the Chelsea waterfront, just north of Boston. In 1984, he built the city’s first speculative office building since a fire destroyed the downtown area 10 years earlier. Now known as MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, its success encouraged other developers and helped to revitalize the community.

Since then, his firm, ACS Development Corporation, has built or redeveloped multiple projects in Chelsea and recently negotiated a lease there for the FBI’s New England field office, which is the federal government’s largest build-to-suit project to date in Massachusetts.

Vi Thuy Le ’17
Vi Thuy Le ’17, a recipient of the Simboli Family College Award at Chelsea High School, with Tony and Gloria Simboli and their daughter, Patricia Simboli.

“We just do what we can”

The first in his family to attend college, Simboli has made education a philanthropic priority, giving generously to Boston College as well as to the Archdiocese of Boston, local hospitals, and youth service organizations in Boston and Chelsea.

Just this year, he and his wife made a major gift to the Light the World campaign in support of BC’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, but he has a long history of giving back to his alma mater. He pledged a multimillion surety to help stabilize BC during the turbulent 1970s, and he later underwrote the cost for Concord, a striking abstract sculpture on Robsham Theater Plaza. In 1985, he endowed the Anthony C. Simboli Scholarship Fund, which has supported dozens of BC students. Twenty years later, Tony and Gloria established the Simboli Family College Award at Chelsea High School, which has helped more than 100 students attend college, including several who followed his lead to BC.

“Mr. and Mrs. Simboli are more than just names on my scholarship,” says Vi Thuy Le ’17, who received the family’s award for Chelsea High School seniors. “They really care about their students, and that gives me courage to follow my own dreams.”

In the face of such praise, Simboli cites the Jesuit call to serve and the exhortation that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” But as he reflects on the students who have benefited from his scholarships and the academic programs and campus projects he’s helped support, he smiles.

“I don’t think I’m that charitable, we just do what we can when we can,” he says simply. “I know I did the right thing at BC because I’m happy about it.”

» Learn more about the School of Theology and Ministry in Simboli Hall at www.bc.edu/STM.

Boston College Alumni and Friends