Albert Centofante ’52

Honoring Their Father

A $5 million family gift memorializes Al Centofante ’52 and supports the construction of USC’s new events center

THE FIVE ADULT CHILDREN of Albert J. Centofante ’52, who died last July, have each given $1 million – for a total of $5 million – toward construction of USC’s new campus events center.
In honor of the gift, which is the largest ever received by the USC athletic department, the grand foyer of the arena will be named the Albert J. Centofante Grand Foyer.
“This wonderful donation by Al’s children is a fitting tribute to his memory,” said athletic director Mike Garrett.
“I will never forget Al. He was a gentle, kind, generous and understanding man, who gave to the athletic department from his heart and wanted the best for our student-athletes. He was there for us through victory and defeat, always in a most gracious manner. It will be hard to replace him.”
Centofante and Mary, his wife of 50 years, were long-time supporters of USC, and Mary is still a member of several support groups. Their three daughters and two sons – all graduates of USC – felt that this gift was a fitting tribute to their father.
“My dad contributed to many causes, and we’ll continue that tradition,” said Jane Centofante ’79, MA ’81, who made the donation with her sisters, Linda Wengli-kowski ’75 and Michelle Katnik ’88, and her brothers, Bert Centofante ’83 and J.P. Centofante ’79. “But to honor his memory, USC seemed like the obvious choice.
“USC encompasses all of his interests and passions – education, athletics and the city of Los Angeles. This arena will not only be good for the campus, it will good for the city.”
Wenglikowski said her father would have approved of the donation.
“When we decided to honor my dad’s memory,” she said, “we wanted to do something that was not only important, but something that would have made him happy. As Jane said, USC was the obvious choice.”

AL AND MARY CENTOFANTE endowed the outside linebacker position on the football team and became lifetime members of the Scholarship Club and lifetime members of Cardinal and Gold (Al) and Women of Troy (Mary). They also provided a yearly challenge grant to Swim With Mike, which has raised nearly $200,000 in just three years.
In addition, Al was a presidential member of USC Associates, the highest level of membership, and a former member of the Associates board of directors. He also was a major donor for two important Catholic projects – the education foundation of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, currently under construction in downtown Los Angeles.
After graduating from USC’s Marshall School of Business in 1952, he founded Astrophysics Corp., which has provided 90 percent of the overall X-ray security equipment in the United States and 60 percent in the rest of the world, including Russia and China.
“It sounds like a cliché, but to my dad USC was his beloved alma mater,” Jane Centofante said. “Education was always very important to him. It was the connecting thread through all of his philanthropy. We all graduated from USC, so the school is part of our heritage too.”

Meeting Age-Old Needs

THE MARY PICKFORD FOUNDATION recently endowed a professorship with a $750,000 gift to the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.
Kathleen H. Wilber MPA ’75, MSW ’76, PhD ’82, an expert on health-care services for the aging, has been named the first holder of the university’s Mary Pickford Foundation Professorship in Gerontology.
“The Pickford Foundation has a long history of support for the study of aging, a particular interest of the legendary film star who died in 1979,” said Edward L. Schneider, dean of the school and holder of its William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in Gerontology.
“With Mary Pickford’s guidance, the foundation took a leading role in the promotion of healthy aging at USC. We are grateful for the foundation’s continuing support,” he said.
Even before the word ‘gerontology’ became a familiar part of our lexicon, Pickford lectured on the subject and involved others in some of the USC gerontology program’s earliest courses. The foundation subsequently endowed a scholar-ship fund that has aided 51 students of gerontology since is founding in 1988.

WILBER, A FACULTY MEMBER since 1988, is an associate professor of gerontology in the Leonard Davis School and holds a joint appointment in the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. She directs the Division of Health and Health Policy at USC’s Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center.
A licensed clinical social worker, Wilber teaches courses in administration public policy and long-term care. She also lectures and provides technical assistance to local human-service organizations and chairs the board of directors of the St. Barnabas Multipurpose Senior Center in Los Angeles.
Wilber has published numerous academic articles on guardianship and conservatorship, elder abuse, and the organization and delivery of health services and long-term care.


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