Legacy Gift Honors Transformational Educator
Martha (Hanzel) Johnson '91 and her husband Jeff thoughtfully developed their estate plan with the intent to honor people and places that were influential and meaningful in their lives. For Martha, one decision was easy: honoring Professor Donald ("Doc") Peake through a legacy gift dedicated to the arts and theatre programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.
Today, Martha serves as Assistant Dean for the Learning Abroad Program at the University of Minnesota. In 1991, she graduated from Saint Mary's University with a degree in English literature and theatre. Dr. Peake was her favorite professor. Martha describes Dr. Peake as an extraordinary teacher who provided her with a transformational education. "Dr. Peake taught me to critically engage in discourse, to defend, explain and think through an opinion, and he made each of us believe we could contribute to the conversation. He pushed me intellectually and refused to let me stick with the status quo," says Martha. She credits him with making her believe in her intelligence in a way no one had done before.
As a professor, Martha says that Dr. Peake was generous with his time, always welcoming students in his office for conversation. In his classes, part of Dr. Peake's magic was his ability to bridge the gap between the script and the final production of a play. Martha recently taught theatre students in Ireland, using an Irish one-act play that she directed at Saint Mary's for her senior project, with guidance from Dr. Peake. She used her script from that project, incorporating Dr. Peake's methods and the lessons she learned from him in leading her students through discourse and making them commit to a point of view, something she finds exhilarating.
The estate gift Martha and Jeff have included in their plans ensures that Dr. Peake will be honored and remembered always at Saint Mary's by the students following in Martha's footsteps in the years ahead.