Fred and Suzanne Fields | University of Portland

Fred and Suzanne Fields

Fred Fields, who receives honorary doctorates celebrating the quiet, thorough, remarkable, and boundless generosity that he and his late wife Suzanne offered the Portland community over half a century, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the Second World War (as a flight and navigation instructor), and then studied at Ball State, Indiana, and Purdue universities before beginning a long career with Coe Manufacturing Company, where he began as a junior engineer and retired, half a century later, as chief executive officer. Coe has been a leading manufacturer of machinery in the United States since before the Civil War. Fred’s service to the community in Oregon includes years as a trustee (and finally chairman of the board) at Lewis & Clark College; that College’s Fred W. Fields Center for the Visual Arts is named in his honor.

Sue Schoenfeldt Fields, the sister of the University’s late and beloved Father Arthur Schoenfeldt, C.S.C., was born in Portland and educated at The Madeleine School, Saint Mary’s Academy, and the University of Oregon. For many years she was co-owner of Thorpe Draperies in Portland, and the blizzard of her philanthropic efforts include board memberships for the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Humane Society, the Boys and Girls Aid Society, and the University, where she served as a regent for fifteen years; additionally she played a key role in the remarkable restoration of Portland’s famous Saint Mary’s Cathedral, her parish church, which today, thanks partly to Sue, features the beautifully restored murals of Emil Jacques, a world-renowned artist who taught on The Bluff in the 1920s.

Fred and Sue’s relationship to the University may be said to hail from the University’s birth in 1901; Sue’s grandfather, Colonel David Dunne, was one of the University’s first benefactors, and personally helped break ground for the University’s first residence hall, Christie, in 1911. (There is a lovely photograph of that event in which the Colonel is readily identified by his enormous mustache and boutonniere.) Completing a circle, as it were, many years later, Sue and Fred made the generous gift that created Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls, the University’s newest student residences, which opened last summer; one memorable feature of the dedication ceremony was Sue telling the residents cheerfully that University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., lived across the quad, and they could knock on his door any time, day or night, for advice.

Fred and Sue also made the generous gift, in 1988, that established the University’s renowned Schoenfeldt Writers Series, in memory of her parents, Arthur M. and Dorothy Dunne Schoenfeldt. Directed by her brother, Father Art Schoenfeldt, C.S.C., until his death, the Series has brought some of the finest writers in the world to campus to meet with students, faculty, and friends; among the renowned guests have been National Book Award winners Barry Lopez ’94 hon., Peter Matthiessen, and Tim Egan, Sallie Tisdale ’83, David James Duncan ’04 hon., Ursula Le Guin, Paul Theroux, Kathleen Norris, Pico Iyer, and Ivan Doig.