Donor Profile | Donald and Jane Danilek
Jane Till and Donald Danilek were born in the same New York City hospital five days apart in 1937. They met in high school, where, as Don puts it, “the magic struck” and the pair “became inseparable.” The relationship did not enjoy the support of Jane’s Episcopalian family, nor of Don’s Catholic family.
Don went to Princeton in 1954. The couple spent every weekend together, attending home football games and Sunday Mass celebrated by the Dominican chaplain, whom Don remembers as “a jovial and brilliant man.”
Eventually the friar learned of the couple’s difficult situation. “Father Hugh took it upon himself to go to the midtown Manhattan office of my father, a Knight of Malta, and implore him to leave us alone,” Don recalls.
Soon Don and Jane were engaged. No proposal was necessary. As Don puts it “we just knew we were meant to be together.”
The pair made a habit of reading the catechism, and Jane met with the chaplain regularly to discuss her fiancé’s faith. “One day, Jane asked Fr. Hugh if she could become a Catholic and he accomplished it forthwith. No RCIA back then,” says Don.
In 1957 Don and Jane were married at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Garden City, New York. Jane’s father walked her down the aisle. “I’m convinced that the only reason there was a wedding was because Fr. Hugh intervened,” Don says.
With the goal of forming Dominican college chaplains able to walk with today’s students as they navigate a vastly different world, Don and Jane became generous donors and legacy supporters of the Dominican Friars Foundation.
Jane Till Danilek passed away on May 10, 2014. She is remembered in the prayers of the Dominican Order and her remains are in the priory’s columbarium on the University of Virginia campus.
“It amazes me to look back at what Jane and I started, which has become four children, ten grandchildren, and I have just been told to expect our fifth great-grandchild next May. Thank you, Lord, for that wonderful soulmate you gave me for sixty years.”