Bernice “Bunny” M. Weede Havlicek, Frank J. Havlicek, and Jane Roth
“There are quiet ways to help people, and we just would like to give others the chance to succeed. ”
It was 1943 when a handsome Air Force lieutenant walked into a party and was swept off his feet by a young University of Iowa nurse. She had just come from surgery with Drs. Arthur Steindler and Ignacio Ponseti, and the lieutenant would later joke that, because of the ether still lingering on her, he awoke the next day to discover they were engaged.
On that heady evening, Bernice “Bunny” M. Weede Havlicek (1940 G.N.) and Frank J. Havlicek (1948 B.S.P.E.) did not yet know that their chance encounter would one day help future generations of UI students.
However, thanks to a generous investment to endow the Bernice M. Weede and Frank J. Havlicek Scholarship in the UI College of Nursing, the Havliceks’ longstanding love for one another—and for The University of Iowa—will live on through the students who receive their gifts.
Though Frank died in 2003, at age 85, Jane Roth—the couple’s only child—made this commitment in tribute to her parents and to their abiding affection for The University of Iowa.
“I didn’t graduate from the UI, but my Iowa roots remain strong,” says Roth, who is director of administration for Datatel, Inc., in Fairfax, Virginia. “The University is the core of those roots; it gives young people the chance to reach their dreams.”
This was very true for Roth’s mother, who worked at a clothing store in Bloomfield, Iowa, during high school so that she could fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a nurse at The University of Iowa. Roth’s father also found his sense of purpose at Iowa, arriving as a director of physical training in the Air Force and eventually holding positions as a UI instructor in physical education, an assistant UI swim coach, and business manager for the UI Department of Athletics.
Frank, who came up with the idea for a UI mascot—which Dick Spencer sketched and which later received the name “Herky” through a state-wide naming contest—would be proud to know that his family was helping his alma mater.
“Education was important to both of my parents,” says Roth, who was inspired to increase the initial amount of her gift—from 80 to 100 percent of her estate—after attending a Women in Philanthropy event with UI President Sally Mason. “There are quiet ways to help people, and we just would like to give others the chance to succeed. There is such a critical shortage of nurses right now, and we want to make a difference with our gift.”
Thanks to this generous vision, a new generation of UI nursing students can face their futures the same way the Havliceks did—with a sense of gratitude and possibility.