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Ave Maria University plans celebration of the extraordinary life of Myra Janco Daniels

Ave Maria University plans a celebration of Myra Janco Daniels and her contribution to the university and the arts Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. A memorial Mass and eulogy will be presented by the Rev. Joseph Fessio, the university’s Founding Provost. The Mass will be followed by a reception at the Grind in the Canizaro Library on campus. Golf cart transportation will be available for guests requiring assistance.

Ave Maria University President Mark Middendorf, Fessio and students invite the public to share in the celebration of gratitude. Anyone planning to attend the reception is asked to email tim.dockery@avemaria.edu.

Daniels, the legendary founder of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts (now named Artis-Naples), passed away at age 96 on June 22. Since 1989, the center has brought world-class music, theater, dance, opera, and art to Naples. In 2000, she founded the Naples Museum of Art (now the Baker Museum) on that same campus.

After a storied career as an advertising executive in Chicago, Daniels came out of retirement in the early 1980s to spearhead a fund-raising drive for a small classical music ensemble on Marco Island, which would later become the Naples Philharmonic orchestra.

Dominant among her many interests was her passion for developing in young people a knowledge of and appreciation for what she believed to be the life-enhancing value of the arts.

Fessio deeply shared this passion as he sought ways to incorporate students’ involvement in the arts in evolving Ave Maria University programs, both curricular and extra-curricular. Following an introduction by a mutual friend, Fessio and Daniels began a lifelong friendship that culminated in a final three-hour visit just weeks before her passing.

Daniels’ impact on students at Ave Maria University was both direct and indirect. She regularly gifted blocks of Philharmonic performance tickets to students, visited with them after the performances and delighted in their expressive thank-you notes. She guided Fessio and Ave Maria University faculty with suggestions on academic programs and direct musical experiences. Her engagement was so deep that she formulated a dream of building a student-centered performing arts center in the town of Ave Maria.

Students responded warmly to her care for them and celebrated her in a special musical performance at the University’s first Scholarship Dinner in 2015.

In addition to the service, the “Myra Janco Daniels Fund for the Arts at Ave” has been established for those wishing to honor her love of engaging students in the arts. Donors can contribute online at www.avemaria.edu/give or by mail to Ave Maria University, Attn: Myra Daniels Fund for the Arts, 5050 Ave Maria Blvd., Ave Maria, FL 34142.

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