Mary T. Diederich, who attended the College of Arts & Sciences in the early 1950s and was the partial namesake of the College of Communication, died on Sept. 30 at age 82 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Diederich is survived by her 13 children, 22 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Diederich met her husband, J. William Diederich, while studying at Marquette. The two were married in 1950, according to her obituary in the Virginian-Pilot.
In 2005, the Diederichs gave one the largest charitable donations in Wisconsin history, donating $28 million to Marquette’s College of Communication, which has since been renamed the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication.
The money donated went toward renovating Johnston Hall, including upgrading the broadcasting studio to a digital format, endowments for professors, scholarships and other endeavors.
“All of us at Marquette are deeply saddened by the death of Mary Diederich,” College of Communication Dean Lori Bergen said in an Oct. 11 news brief. “Our thoughts are with her family. Because of her generosity and that of her husband, Bill, their spirits live on through their gifts to our college and Marquette, through which the Diederich family has created an enduring legacy.”
Bill Diederich died of cancer in 2006 at age 72. He was instrumental in the creation of the Weather Channel and was the owner of multiple newspapers.
The Diederichs were devout Catholics, and Mary was a member of three separate churches while living across the country. She served as a choir member and catechism instructor, according to her obituary in the Virginian-Pilot.