SPOKANE, Wash. — Miss Myrtle E. Woldson, an accomplished businesswoman, musician and philanthropist, has celebrated her love of the arts, music and education with a bequest to Gonzaga University for full funding to design, build and furnish a performing arts center on the campus.
Miss Woldson, who held close ties to Gonzaga for more than five decades, was 104 years old when she passed away on April 11.
“The Gonzaga University community is deeply saddened at Miss Woldson’s passing, and the loss of a true friend and patron of the City of Spokane,” said Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., president of Gonzaga. “Her quiet, private generosity to many causes in our region over time is but one of the great expressions of her legacy of love.”
A skilled pianist herself, Miss Woldson’s love of music and the arts is reflected in her bequest for the facility, which will be named in her honor: The Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center. Estimated at 52,000 square feet, the building will include a 750-seat performance theatre named for Father Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., chancellor of Gonzaga, as well as areas dedicated to instruction in music, dance and theatre arts. Many of the details of the facility, including its location on campus, have not been finalized and will be announced this fall.
“This gift honors the rich heritage of the arts in the Jesuit tradition. It will usher in a new era of teaching and learning in these creative disciplines at GU, as well as create a magnificent venue for the entire community to enjoy,” said President McCulloh. “Miss Woldson is building on the solid foundation for the arts at Gonzaga created by the Jundt Art Center and Museum and the Harry and Colleen Magnuson Theatre, as well as the dedicated work of our exceptional faculty and staff in these fields.”
The daughter of a self-made industrialist, a railroad contractor who helped build the Great Northern Railway, Miss Woldson quietly carried on her family’s tradition of investing, industry and philanthropy. Through discipline, creativity and business acumen she became a successful businesswoman in her own right. Her love for the Spokane community can be seen in developments that honor her parents: The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, and the Edwidge Woldson Park on Spokane’s South Hill. Far more frequently, her philanthropy was private and discreet. Miss Woldson’s quiet, dignified support makes her compassion all the more powerful, reflecting her commitment to hold the community she loved “in trust.”
Miss Woldson was a member of the Gonzaga family; an avid Zag who attended University events and loved to cheer on the Bulldogs at basketball games. She made generous gifts to the Jundt Museum Art Endowment, Athletics, and student scholarships over the years.
“Miss Woldson’s generous bequest honors more than the performing and visual arts she loved,” said President McCulloh. “It also reflects her understanding of the University’s significant financial needs, as well as her personal recognition that the kind of Jesuit and Catholic education she knows we are committed to providing is possible only through private support. It is such a privilege to share this news of her profound generosity, and I personally will forever cherish her friendship and memory.”