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St. John’s Alumna Auctions Art to Create Scholarships for Women Students

St. John’s Alumna Auctions Art to Create Scholarships for Women Students
Monday, August 21, 2017

Young women studying at St. John’s will be the beneficiaries of auction proceeds when more than 100 highly regarded European and American works of art from the Patricia and John Roche Collection will be auctioned to fund the new Patricia Kelly Roche Scholarship at the University.

The auction—featuring paintings, prints, and watercolors—will take place on September 18 at Freeman’s in Philadelphia, PA. Proceeds are expected to fund scholarships for young women with high financial need who are enrolled in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University division from which Mrs. Roche earned her degree.

Mrs. Roche attended St. John’s University with scholarship aid from the Diocese of Brooklyn. She was the first in her family to attend college—an opportunity that would have been unlikely without scholarship assistance.

“As it has for so many students, a scholarship made it possible for Patricia to receive an outstanding education at St. John’s,” said Christian P. Vaupel, Ed.D., Vice President for Advancement and University Relations. “Years later, always remembering the opportunity she enjoyed, Patricia paid it forward by ensuring that new generations of talented young women will be able to pursue their own dreams at the University.”

Patricia and John Roche were recent college graduates when they married in 1957. It was while raising their two children, Janet and Keith, and reading to them at the family’s home in Brooklyn Heights, that Mrs. Roche discovered she wanted to tell stories of her own.

After earning her master’s degree in English at New York University, Mrs. Roche took courses at the New School on creating children’s books. She combined her interest in drawing and painting to write and illustrate stories for children. Mrs. Roche found a receptive editor at Dial Press in New York, and began her career as an author. She published seven books.

Later, as Mrs. Roche’s interests turned to landscape painting, the couple began collecting watercolors and prints. While visiting art galleries in London, Mrs. Roche became fond of work from the 19th century—the “golden age” of English watercolors.

Mr. Roche embarked on a legal career after graduating Harvard Law School. He practiced law at the New York firm of Shearman & Sterling in 1963 and in 1971 became a partner specializing in banking law. Mr. Roche left Shearman & Sterling in 1989 to become the chief legal officer of Citicorp and Citibank. He retired in 2000 as the co-general counsel of Citigroup.

Mr. and Mrs. Roche partnered in acquiring a large and varied art collection. It comprises works from painters such as William Lionel Wyllie, Charles Bentley, and William Cornwallis Harris. It also reflects Mrs. Roche’s interest in contemporary artists from England, Scotland, and the United States. Ultimately, the collection expanded to include works by American painter and printmaker Wayne Theibaud as well as author and illustrator Maurice Sendak.

Combining creativity and generosity, Mrs. Roche exemplifies the outstanding St. John’s graduates who find innovative ways to support the University. “Learning, succeeding, and giving back—it’s a cycle that has characterized our alumni and alumnae for nearly 150 years,” noted Dr. Vaupel. “Now, through this gift, young women who have never met Patricia and John Roche will benefit from their commitment and example.”

View highlights of the Roche collection, which range in price from $100 to $250,000.