Alumni Bequest Supports Fellow Student Veterans at SJU

Thursday, April 27, 2017

by Colleen Sabatino '11 (M.A.)

After serving his country in World War II, Raymond DeLuca ’50 earned his accounting degree at Saint Joseph’s University at night while working full time. Sixty-seven years later, his family decided to honor his memory by giving back to veterans with a similar dream — to complete their education at the institution he held so dear.

“SJU meant a lot to my dad because it gave him the opportunity to take advantage of the G.I.Bill,” says Linda DeLuca, one of Raymond’s three children. “He was the first in his family to get a college education and he knew that would be his greatest accomplishment for himself and his family.”

When DeLuca passed away in 2016, his children, Linda, Leonora and Raymond, discussed the best way to honor his memory and fulfill his wishes to give back to Saint Joseph’s.

“My dad, when he was healthy, he spoke to us children and said he wanted to leave $10,000 to SJU after he died,” says Linda. “It was at that time I saw an article about the veteran’s program and I knew that that was where to apply it too when the time came.”

Along with her siblings Leonora and Raymond, Linda contacted SJU’s director of veteran’s services, Ralph Galati ’70 (USAF), who helped identify two student veterans who had used up their GI Bill benefits and were in financial need to complete their degrees at Saint Joseph’s.

Marine Corps veteran Antonio Padilla from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is working full time while earning his bachelor’s degree in international business, says this gift reminds him of the many veterans have stood in his shoes at SJU.

 “This gift means that my fellow veteran has lived beyond the expectation to service his country,” says Padilla. “Even after death he was able to lend a hand to help a younger veteran.”

After being honorably discharged from the marines with a service-related injury, Padilla completed the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Saint Joseph’s as a member of the 2016 cohort, honing his business plan for creating smart athletic wear that measures health and performance.

Former naval officer and Gladwyne, Pennsylvania native, Eric Tuwalski, who served two surge deployments in the Middle East and is currently completing his doctorate in education at Saint Joseph’s while working full time. He founded the University’s chapter of Student Veterans of America and works closely with Galati and the Office of Veterans Services to provide support for fellow student veterans.

“I am humbly honored to have been selected and acknowledged by the support from Raymond DeLuca's family,” says Tuwalski. “The DeLuca Award means the continuation and passing on the rich legacy and tradition originating with Raymond DeLuca by acknowledging the dedication, determination, and service of our military veterans here at Saint Joseph's University.”

On April 20, 2017, the one year anniversary of their father’s death, the DeLucas came to campus to present their father’s gifts to Padilla and Tuwalski at Saint Joseph’s in the form of two $5,000 checks for tuition expenses.  

 “It is a great privilege for the Office of Veterans Services to honor the memory of Raymond DeLuca by connecting his family with two of our student-veterans,” says Galati. “The GI Bill is a tremendous program, and for over 70 years continues to be a valuable benefit for our veterans.”

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