Jim and Jean Roeber
When asked about the essence of Gonzaga, Jim Roeber is quick to recall a conversation he once had with Father Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J. The words proffered by the former Gonzaga president in that exchange, though brief, made a powerful and lasting impression.
“If we don’t have that personal relationship with every student,” Fr. Coughlin told Jim, “then we feel we have failed.”
Gonzaga, in Jim’s unwavering estimation, has never failed his family. Four of the Roebers’ daughters are Gonzaga alumnae; however, two of them might not have graduated without, as Jim likes to say, “the University going the extra mile.” In the early 1970s, Jim was working for a company in California that, after a sale and change in management, directed employees to apply discriminatory pricing practices against a few specific customers. Jim refused to comply, so he resigned. Jim and his wife, Jean, informed Gonzaga it would be unlikely that their daughters would be returning to school; but Fr. Coughlin said, “You send your kids and we’ll make it work.”
“They did a lot for our family at a time when we really needed it,” Jean said of Gonzaga, “and our girls have done well with their education.”
Now the Roebers feel it is their obligation to not only help provide an exemplary Jesuit education for others, but also sustain the essence of Gonzaga. That is why he and Jean give so generously to the University. In addition to establishing the Jim and Jean Roeber Family Endowed Scholarship in 1984, the couple has indicated a bequest for Gonzaga in their will.
“From our total estate, each of our kids gets a piece and the other portion is divided up amongst three different charities,” said Jim, ”and GU is the first one.”
“We hope it pays back some of the really great things Gonzaga did for us,” Jean said. “They made it happen for us and we want to make it happen for somebody else.”