University of Portland alumnus and longtime benefactor Donald T. Galarneau ’49 passes away





August 29, 2016

University of Portland alumnus and longtime benefactor Donald T. Galarneau ’49 passed away on Saturday, August 20 after a sudden illness. A Portland native, Don generously gave the University $1.5 million during his lifetime, including matching gifts from General Electric (GE), for whom he worked his entire career. 

Don was especially generous when it came to supporting the Shiley School of Engineering. He established the Donald T. Galarneau Endowed Scholarship for electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics and math majors in 2002; since that time, there have been 25 students who have been awarded the scholarship.

In addition to the scholarship fund, he made gifts to the Engineering Building Fund for renovation of the engineering building; the Galarneau Engineering Student Project Fund; Murdock Challenge Engineering Match Fund; Clark Family Library Renovation Fund (Don funded two study rooms in the library which bear his name); the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering Fund; SAE Society/Galarneau Mini Baja Project Fund/Formula Team; the  Engineering Equipment Fund  (Don funded the purchase of a 3D printer in addition to other equipment); Portland Magazine; the Shiley School of Engineering general fund; Rev. David T. Tyson, C.S.C. Distinguished Professorships; the Beauchamp Recreation & Wellness Center and more.

“Don Galarneau had a deep love for the University of Portland and the Shiley School of Engineering, in particular. A generous benefactor, he made many developments possible for the School that will benefit students for many years,” said Sharon Jones, Dean. “Don was a warm soul, with the best sense of humor and a big heart. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

A native of North Portland, Don attended Holy Redeemer Parish and grade school and Jefferson High School.  The Wednesday after he graduated from Jefferson, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corp, where he spent three years during WWII.  After going to radio school and becoming a B24 signalman, Don was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines.  He flew 35 bombing missions; all with the same crew. Though not connected to the atomic bomb mission, his crew’s last mission was on August 9, 1945, the day the bomb called “Fat Boy” was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

After the war, Don attended the University of Portland on the GI bill, majoring in general science and physics. While there was no Shiley School of Engineering yet at the University when he attended, he would develop a lifelong commitment to the engineering and science programs.

His first job after graduation was doing service work with General Electric, eventually moving into a service engineering position, which he held for nearly 35 years before retiring. GE would prove to be a generous matching donor for the University over the years, matching all of Don’s gifts up to $50,000 a year and a total of $722,375 over his career.

Don often attended University reunions and events and was involved with the local Catholic radio station KBVM. He was also able to combine his love for cars with his desire to help engineering students.  A major supporter of the School’s SAE automotive collegiate competitions, his donations include a large utility trailer for transporting the Baja car and tools to events, along with a Chevrolet Suburban to haul it, tools to fill it and funds to fuel it.  In the Spring of 2005, Don was able to travel with the School’s first entry into the SAE Formula 1 collegiate racing competition near Detroit, Michigan.


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