A Touching Tribute

Tegan_dedicationJohn and his family at the dedication of the Tegan Commons

Lorraine DeStefano Tegan ’63 and I were married on February 8, 1964, having only met in September 1963. We were recent first-generation college graduates and teachers at Revere Junior High. Most of our friends and family did not give us much of a chance to succeed because of our different personalities: Lorraine was a feminist, a confident woman influenced by the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught her that gender should never limit your success; I grew up in a tough neighborhood, a little rough around the edges—but Lorraine squared me away very rapidly!

We proved friends and family wrong, as we were married for 48 years—with four children and 11 grandchildren—when Lorraine died of breast cancer in February 2012. Over time, the Regis community and faithful alumni have always been present and supportive during our journey. After Lorraine’s death, our family wanted to plan a celebration of her life and did not want the venue to be a funeral home, which we felt could be cold and impersonal. I asked our children for suggestions and one of our daughters said, “Why not call President Hays at Regis?” I did call and will never forget Dr. Hays’ response. After a brief pause, she said, “You would honor us by having Lorraine’s celebration of life here at Regis.”

The Regis staff helped plan the event with our family. It was a great tribute to a faithful alumna who loved the school, and it tightened the bond between Lorraine’s family and the extended Regis family. The Tegan family believes that Regis’ sense of community is more important than ever in our world today. The charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph permeates the university and is reflected by the students as you walk through the campus today, much like it was when Lorraine was an undergraduate at Regis (except now there are men as well as women!). Scores of first generation college students still give a unique identity to the school, representing many different cultures and extending the Regis family into a global forum. One such nationally and internationally recognized project is in Haiti—the “teach-the-teachers” nursing education program has become a model for other parts of the world. Regis has been and always will be an important resource for women, and now for men as well. Its Catholic culture and values are instilled in every aspect of the institution—a rarity in today’s world.

Lorraine spent many hours as a student, an alumna, and a trustee (Lorraine was a Regis trustee from 2006 to 2012; John Tegan was elected a trustee in 2013 and now serves as Board chair) supporting important initiatives to enhance Regis’ academic programs, and to make that experience even more compelling to prospective students. She was surprised to find out that women’s colleges were so poorly supported. Starting with her own husband, she began efforts to involve more spouses in the school’s philanthropic programs.

Our family’s gift to Regis is a result of Lorraine’s vision. We have always believed that “the Regis experience” deserves to be significantly supported. Lorraine would be extremely pleased that a gift from her family was given to launch the creation of a new “Learning Commons” in the heart of the Regis Library and continue this tradition of support. “To whom much is given much is expected.”

This story was originally published as an “In My Own Words” column by John Tegan in the spring 2015 Regis Today magazine.