Syracuse University

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Syracuse University's School of Management receives $1 million gift for construction of its new building

December 01, 2000

The Syracuse University School of Management has received the first
major gift in its new-building fund-raising campaign. Kathleen Snavely
has given $1 million in memory of her first husband, Roxie Rollins, the
founder of Seneca Dairy.

"I am thrilled by Mrs. Snavely’s generosity and its
timing," says George R. Burman, dean of the School of Management.
"She has made a significant leadership gift that will set the pace
for the fund-raising campaign for our new building." Earlier this
year, SU’s Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new
building, to be located on the corner of Marshall Street and University

Mrs. Snavely married Rollins in 1928. At the time, he operated an
entrepreneurial laundry business, offering clients throughout the region
services and technology that were innovative for their day. His bride,
Kathleen, had proved herself no less enterprising, working for five
years in the E.W. Edwards department store and moving up the retailing
ladder. In 1933, the couple formed Seneca Dairy and opened their first
store on South Salina Street.

They worked seven days a week to ensure the success of their new
venture, launched during the depths of the Great Depression. Eventually,
Seneca Dairy employed 40 people in two local retail stores and an ice
cream fountain. For many Syracusans, Seneca was an institution.
"Neither of us had a formal business education," Mrs. Snavely
recalls. "We learned on the job, through experience. If you have a
feeling for management and enjoy it, experience will give you the

Seneca Dairy’s success confirmed the Rollinses’ business acumen
and won them the respect and affection of the community--feelings they
reciprocated. Recalling her husband’s strong attachment to Syracuse
and his involvement in local organizations, Mrs. Snavely says, "I
can’t think of anything that would please him more than supporting a
cause that would help other ambitious young people like us."

Born in Clare County, Ireland, Mrs. Snavely worked as a business
apprentice in Dublin and Limerick in her teens, but an uncle in the
United States encouraged her to join him and his family--and a thriving
Irish community--in Syracuse. She arrived in 1921 and soon found
employment with Edwards, where her starting salary was $5 for a six-day
week. The experience would pay off in the entrepreneurial venture to

Mrs. Snavely remains close to her family in Ireland today. Besides
her 88-year-old brother, a retired military officer, her family consists
of seven nephews and nieces and their children. "One nephew and his
wife are teachers," she says, "and the son of another nephew
is also a career military officer, serving with the United Nations
peacekeeping force in Kosovo." Regular telephone conversations with
her brother keep her up to date on her Irish kin and homeland.

And she has another family nearby in Pennsylvania--her three
stepsons, J. William, James and Jere, who are the sons of her second
husband, Jesse Snavely. "We’ve remained a close family, and we
get together often," says Mrs. Snavely. "I feel fortunate to
enjoy the love of two families."