John F. O'Shaughnessy Jr. inherited a passion for philanthropy.
His grandfather, a prosperous St. Paul businessman in the first half of the 20th century, established a foundation in 1941 to share his good fortune with others. John O'Shaughnessy Jr. continued the legacy of Ignatius Aloysius (I.A.) O'Shaughnessy.
He served on the board of the O'Shaughnessy Foundation, now based in Bloomington, for 23 years, including eight years as president. He also served on the board of Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and on the University of St. Thomas board.
O'Shaughnessy Jr., of Mendota Heights, died July 18. He was 80.
"John was a wonderful trustee and great friend of St. Thomas," the Rev. Dennis Dease, president emeritus of the school, wrote in a statement. "He cared deeply about the university and we shall very much miss him."
I.A. O'Shaughnessy, described as the largest individual contributor to Catholic higher education during his lifetime, was the benefactor for multiple buildings on the private St. Paul school's campus. One of them is the school's main library, the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library.
Like his grandfather, O'Shaughnessy Jr. had a lifetime interest in books and libraries. Dan Gjelten, St. Thomas' associate vice provost for university libraries, said in an e-mail, "John was a lover of books and libraries, and, of course, the University of St. Thomas' main library carries his grandfather's name. "
Gjelten said the younger O'Shaughnessy's gifts to the university's libraries "included hundreds of special editions of classic works of literature."
"We keep them in the most beautiful room in the library, the O'Shaughnessy Room, where they remind us of the book as a work of art, something we have a tendency to forget in this era of ubiquitous digital content," he said.
O'Shaughnessy Jr. "also gave the library a facsimile of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a large 14th-century map that is at once a geographical map, a theological worldview and a work of art. The Mappa Mundi is framed and displayed in the O'Shaughnessy Room as well. We are honored to have received these generous gifts, which will be appreciated by library users for years to come."
O'Shaughnessy was born to Lucille and John F. O'Shaughnessy Sr. on Dec. 18, 1939, in Wichita, Kan. His father was working in the family business — Globe Oil and Refining, which I.A. O'Shaughnessy started in 1917. At the time, it was the largest individually owned oil company in the world.
O'Shaughnessy graduated from St. Thomas Academy in 1957. He then attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and the College (now University) of St. Thomas before serving in the Army.
After his service, he embarked on a career as business owner and entrepreneur. In 1971, the Minneapolis Tribune reported that he was the lead financial backer for the Minnesota Fighting Saints, a professional hockey team in the WHA, a rival league to the NHL.
He served on the St. Thomas board from 1991 to 2016. He also served on the board of Lario Oil & Gas Co., which evolved from the company his grandfather had started.
O'Shaughnessy is survived by Cheryl, his wife of 53 years, sons John and Patrick, four grandchildren, six brothers and two sisters.
Services have been held.