Youngstown, OH

Two sisters donate $500.000 to Youngstown University

Terrence Jacobs

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Youngstown, OH - Gwendolyn Thomas Watson and Janet Thomas Shanklin, daughters of the late Mahoning Valley businessman Paul J. Thomas donated once again to Youngstown State University (YSU) to help students, this time in honor of their mother, Marguerite Kauffman Thomas.

A $500,000 gift to the YSU Foundation formed the Marguerite Kauffman Thomas Scholarship for undergraduate and graduate women pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Marguerite's bachelor’s degree in Biology and her years serving on the women's board of the Youngstown Hospital Association displayed her strong interest in medicine.

In 2018, the Thomas sisters gave a $1.5 million gift to YSU to establish the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Economics. The sisters remarked that their mother would be pleased that the scholarship was helping women in STEM pursue their academic goals. They went on to say that their mother was a strong supporter of education and the city of Youngstown.

“We are thankful for Gwen and Janet’s unwavering support of YSU and the YSU Foundation,” YSU Foundation President Paul McFadden said.

McFadden continued that the sister's charity not only pays respect to their parent’s memory but secures their legacy continues to affect not only YSU students but also the Mahoning Valley.

Paul J. Thomas, a certified public accountant who was born and raised in Niles, Ohio, joined the firm that would eventually become Packer Thomas in 1939. He returned to the Mahoning Valley after World War II and went on to have a distinguished business career, including positions as vice president of Superior Industries and vice president of Easco Corp. He was a trustee for numerous area charity organizations and served on the boards of the Ohio Bank Corp., McKinley Bank, and WKBN Television.

The Thomases launched the Paul J. and Marguerite K. Thomas Colloquium on Free Enterprise at YSU in 1981. Workshops and lectures by well-known figures in finance, business, and economics are part of the colloquium. The Thomases also funded accounting and finance scholarships. Mr. Thomas died in the year 2003. Mrs. Thomas died in the year 2007.

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