Leaving a Legacy: The DeFries Society for the Performing Arts

Posted by Janae Melvin on February 17, 2016 in arts, choir, concert, DeFries, Eichner, Performing
In 2015, Ottawa University established the DeFries Society for the Performing Arts through a generous family gift from alumni Dr. Stanley ’50 and Alice Jo (Hostetter) ’51 DeFries of Lawrence, KS, as well as their children, Lucky ’75 and his wife, Pam ’75, of Topeka, KS; and Paula Nauman ’77 and her husband, Robert ’77, of Louisburg, KS.
Stanley and Alice Jo are no strangers to Ottawa University. Their love and dedication brought them back to OU in 1968 when Stanley accepted the position as Director for the University Concert Choir and Chorale, a position he held for 20 years. In addition to his role as Director, Stanley served as the Chair of the Music and Fine Arts Department from 1968-88. He then held administrative positions as Associate Director of University Relations, Director of Planned Giving, and Acting Vice President of University Relations and Alumni Relations until his retirement in 1996.

Alice Jo joined the faculty of OU’s English Language Institute in 1973 and served the students there until 1996. In addition to working with international students, she was the assistant to the University Concert Choir and Chorale from 1968-88.

During their tenure, Stanley and Alice Jo impacted a large number of students and alumni through their generosity and love of music. To continue their legacy, the DeFries family provided the foundational gift to establish the DeFries Society for the Performing Arts, which serves as a financial resource to enhance the University’s performing arts programs. 

“The University is proud of the legacy that Stanley and Alice Jo have established at Ottawa University,” said President Kevin C. Eichner. “The entire family has been supportive of OU for many years and continues to be active in the life of the University. The DeFries name is highly regarded among many alumni, friends, and employees of Ottawa University, so it is an honor to have this important funding source established in their name. It is fitting that current and future students can continue to appreciate this important family in the life of Ottawa University.”

When the DeFries Society was established, the goal was to raise $300,000 in the first three years. To date, $219,768 has been raised. The impact of the DeFries Society has already been felt throughout the performing arts programs at OU. The orchestra program is updating the existing orchestra library with critically correct, scholarly editions that are appropriate for the size of the group. Enrollment and participation numbers within orchestra, jazz, chorale and theatre continue to rise as local high school music programs and potential students are beginning to take notice of the enhancements.

In addition to their extensive service, Alice Jo established the Hostetter-DeFries Family Endowed Cultural Fund in 1999 to host guest speakers who have contributed significantly to the social, artistic and cultural improvement of society.

The highlight of the year for the society is the DeFries Society Spring Concert, scheduled for April 17.
The DeFries family and the University ask alumni and friends to join in supporting the performing arts with a gift each year to the DeFries Society for the Performing Arts.

To make a gift to the Society, please contact Vice President for University Advancement Paul Bean at 785-248-2330 or paul.bean@ottawa.edu.