Not many people know how to say “thank you” quite like Helen and S. Prestley Blake, who recently donated $2 million to Quinnipiac.
Helen, a Quinnipiac alumna, and S. Prestley, the co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, only ask that the money be used to dedicate and rename the liberal arts college to the Dean Robert W. Evans College of Liberal Arts Center, after a dear friend and former Quinnipiac administrator. The remainder of the money will be put into an endowed scholarship fund in the Blakes’ name.
“We’ve been thinking for quite some time about doing something for Quinnipiac,” said Helen Blake, from her Florida winter home. “Bob Evans was my psychology teacher. He changed my life. Bob taught us something about ourselves that made us do better than we thought we could.”
Blake was a member of the last graduating class from the Junior College of Commerce in 1951 before the school joined forces with Larson College to become Quinnipiac College.
She fondly remembers her time with Evans, who joined the Junior College of Commerce in 1945 and went on to become the dean of students and vice president of academic affairs until his 1985 retirement.
“We went to basketball games together,” she said. “He took the cheerleading squad to games.”
Evans was particularly supportive of Blake and her three friends, a group she affectionately dubs, “the four daughters.”
The group, which consisted of Blake, Florence Russell, Clara Palleria and Elinor Crowe, would spend time at the Evans’ Connecticut cottage with Evans and his wife June.
“They acted as our chaperones,” said Blake, with a laugh.
Blake and her husband, who have a residence in Somers, Conn., have been very active with Quinnipiac’s alumni association for several years. Helen Blake often attends Quinnipiac functions, while her husband was given an honorary doctorate.
“They’ve been very supportive of Quinnipiac for many years,” said John Morgan, director of public relations. “This was just a really nice gesture they made for the dean,”
The Blakes’ gift is the second largest in Quinnipiac’s history. The dedication of the Dean Robert W. Evans College of Liberal Arts Center will be held on May 17.