Endowing an Education

November 30, 2018


Buffalo, NY - Jeanne-Marie Poorten MS ’70 was a firm believer in the power of education.

Growing up, her family valued education more than anything and she attended a Catholic grammar school and high school in Buffalo. Poorten earned an undergraduate degree from D’Youville College followed by a master’s in education from Canisius College.

Then, student became teacher.

Jeanne-Marie Poorten Poorten believed that her Canisius education gave her an edge to excel in a teaching career that spanned 40 years. She always had a deep respect for the Jesuits and their philosophy of education – three of her cousins were Jesuit priests and she was a grammar school classmate of the late Rev. Ronald Sams, SJ, former director of development at Canisius High School.

Poorten taught business to countless high school students throughout her career, first at Williamsville South High School and then at Amherst High School. In retirement, Poorten kept active.  She traveled the world, played tennis and swam right up to the age of 85.

When she downsized from her Amherst home to an apartment, Poorten turned to her first cousin, Richard Suchan ‘82, currently executive director for the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, for help in managing her financial affairs. One of her family members had established an endowed scholarship and Poorten wanted to do the same at Canisius College.

“She wanted to honor her parents who so strongly supported her own education and, at the same time, provide an opportunity for those who may not have the means to afford college,” explained Suchan, who was working at KeyBank at the time. “She truly left a legacy to remember those who helped her and to help students in the future.”

Poorten established the Frank J. & Olive Sergeant Poorten Memorial Scholarship at Canisius to support deserving students who show demonstrated financial need and are in good academic standing.

When Poorten passed away in 2017, the scholarship had grown to approximately $154,000. Her commitment to education grew as well. Canisius later learned that Poorten named the college the sole beneficiary of her estate. Valued at approximately $3.5 million, the bequest is designated to the scholarship fund in her parents’ names.  

“As a financial professional, it was an honor to assist my cousin with her personal legacy planning in tribute to Canisius College,” Suchan said. “She embodied the Jesuit viewpoint of men and women for and with others.”