“At Marygrove I learned that you are expected to use your education on behalf of other people, to make a difference somewhere,” says Nancy McDonough Geschke. Her diverse and exceptional career proves that the instruction hit the mark.
In 1964, with her newly minted Marygrove degree in History and Political Science, Nan returned home to Cleveland to teach school and marry Charles Geschke, who was an instructor at John Carroll University. Eight years later, the Geschkes, with three young children in tow, headed to Palo Alto, California, not yet aware that they would become respected pioneers in the development of the Silicon Valley computer industry.
Nan entered San Jose State University in 1974 to pursue a degree in library science, which she completed four years later. She volunteered as a librarian at her children’s elementary school. Then, in 1980, she began working in corporate libraries. She managed the Westinghouse Research Facility library. She also worked as sales director and consultant for a library placement firm until 1993. Always a lover of libraries, Nan was president of the Special Libraries Association-San Andreas chapter for two years and was active on many association committees.
Nan began volunteering full time in the mid-90s. Nan’s leadership for the City of Los Altos’ Historical Commission led her to produce a successful television program on local history, launch a permanent history museum building and exhibit, and initiate and chair periodic exhibitions to showcase the significant social, scientific and literary contributions of the region’s residents. The 50 shows are being converted for online Internet distribution.
Always loyal to Marygrove, Nan conferred with former College President Jack Shea about the need to “make writing central to the curriculum at Marygrove.” The Geschke’s generosity brought a writing center to Marygrove. Recently renovated, it is now known as the Nancy A. McDonough Geschke Writing Center and is located in the lower level of the Liberal Arts building. The Center offers students individual help with assignments or tutoring in a beautiful setting that helps promote learning. Marygrove President, Dr. David J. Fike is thrilled and said, “Nan always recognized that the ability to write well is absolutely essential to student success and we are deeply grateful for her generosity and tenacity to make the Nancy A. McDonough Geschke Writing Center an indispensable fixture at Marygrove.”
In the early 90s, the Geschkes discovered the glories of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts and built a summer home there. Nan was recruited to the board of the Nantucket Atheneum, founded in 1834. She quickly realized that the library was in danger of collapse—both the crumbling 1847 building and the library’s finances. She recruited new board members and a chairman, and hired an experienced librarian to revitalize operations. A capital campaign was launched to restore the building and establish an endowment. According to Nan’s husband, “The pièce de rèsistance of her fundraising was to arrange an annual summer event that brings a one-ring, European-style circus to the island—a great financial success and a thrilling event for all the families on Nantucket.” She also revived a dormant lecture series that brings speakers of national note to the library each summer.
Whenever Nan sees a need, she steps up to determine what can be done about it. A case in point: She discovered that some of the elderly residents of the Villa Siena retirement home operated by the Sisters of Charity outlived their resources. She joined the Villa’s foundation board to help raise funds to continue their care.
After she began serving on the St. Nicholas parish council at the invitation of her pastor, Nan proposed and organized “Cultural Connections,” a series of dinners with leaders of other faiths (Buddhists, Jews, Greek Orthodox) and ethnicities (Afghans, Japanese, Polish) to encourage cultural and religious exchanges in a social setting.
Nan is justifiably proud of her husband, three adult children, their spouses and seven grandchildren, and gathers them for Sunday dinner each weekend, a near sacred tradition. This woman who “loves a project” is captivated by challenge, hard work and achievement, according to her friend and former Marygrove classmate Jo Ann S. Hoffman ’64.
Friends agree that the Geschkes are very much a team. Mrs. Hoffman says “together the Geschkes built and set a standard for an innovative, compassionate workplace and a socially responsible corporation—hallmark qualities which continue to define the business they founded: Adobe Systems Incorporated.”