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Celebrating a Life

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Law Professor David Wirth with his children (from left) Allan, Elaine, and Philip ’12

BC Law Professor Finds Meaning in Legacy Commitment

David Wirth was greeted with a chorus of cheers.

Rarely does a BC Law professor appear at commencement for the Carroll Graduate School of Management—and even more rarely does he pick up a diploma. But this was an exceptional scene that played out on Bapst Lawn that cloudy day in May 2011.

Fighting back tears, Wirth took the stage for his late wife, Denise, who was two courses short of receiving her MBA when she succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the year before. Looking out at the throng gathered to celebrate another joyous graduation at the Heights, Wirth, too, realized he had much for which to be thankful.

“I saw that the crowd was on their feet. They gave me—but were actually giving my wife—a standing ovation,” says Wirth. “That to me is the quintessence of Boston College. Any university can support you when times are good, but the BC community is there to support you when life becomes incredibly difficult.”

Carroll School Associate Dean Jeffrey Ringuest helped orchestrate the extraordinary moment when he first received news from Wirth about his wife’s passing, via an email the grieving husband sent to inform the school that his wife would not complete her degree.

Ringuest quickly saw that her two courses could be awarded through advanced standing, which many students often request based on their prior academic and professional experience. Moreover, the associate dean recognized that Denise qualified for the renowned honor society Beta Gamma Sigma.

“Many people throughout the entire University came together swiftly to ensure Denise received the degree she deserved,” says Ringuest. “In many ways, this is BC. This is what we do.”

Moved by the gesture, Wirth decided to make a legacy gift to Boston College—and he is one of an increasing number of BC faculty and staff who are leaving bequests to the University.

As both a professor and a parent of a BC graduate, he knows more than most the heart behind a Boston College degree.

“There is a strong social justice component to a BC education,” explains Wirth. “It’s an understanding that there is a broader dimension to the learning process—that we are here to make a positive contribution to the wider world.”

Like many legacy giving donors, Wirth views his commitment as a way to enhance the University’s mission and make a gift he couldn’t otherwise afford in his lifetime.

“Boston College talks about itself in very altruistic terms, but it’s not just words. It’s the truth,” says Wirth. “My family is the proof.”

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