On the anniversary of her birth this week in 1910, we would like to remember Josephine Sitterle Failer, who graduated from Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy in 1939, the same year the OSU Development Fund began the first year she donated to the Fund. She contributed to the fund for the rest of her life, but that wasn’t the only way she showed her support for her alma mater.
From her graduation, Mrs. Failer stayed active with her College’s alumni association. Over the years, she served on numerous boards and committees, including: the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and Executive Board, the Alumnae Scholarship Houses Advisory Board, the Ohio State Alumni Council, the Friends of OSU Libraries, and the University Hospitals board. For more than 25 years, Failer, who had a passion for antiques, co-sponsored the Greater Columbus Antique Show and Sale, raising more than $105,000 for OSU organizations, including Alumnae Scholarship Housing, the OSU Marching Band, Men’s Glee Club, Naval ROTC, OSU Libraries and student financial aid.
But Jo, as she was known, did more than raise money. She delivered groceries to the elderly, visited hospital rooms, spoke with parents at freshman orientation, and registered participants for Program 60. If there was a job that needed doing, Jo was the woman to do it.
For years, she oversaw that the living conditions at the Alumnae Scholarship Housing residences were up to par, even occasionally hemming curtains while her husband, Jay, replaced fuses or rewired lamps. She and her husband continued to live in the University District, on East 15th Avenue, befriending their student neighbors. She once said she knew she would not find a more interesting place to live anywhere in the city.
It was her love of the University, and her desire to give back to her alma mater that earned her an incredible amount of recognition. This recognition includes the University’s highest honors: the Distinguished Service Award (1964), the Alumni Centennial Recognition Award (1970), the Ralph D. Mershon Alumni Award (1984) and lastly, the honorary Doctorate of Humanities Award presented at the December 1987 Commencement a week before her death. She was 77 years old.
Failer’s dedication to OSU has continued long after her death, in the form of alumni awards and student financial awards in her name, such as the Josephine Sitterle Failer Alumni Award through the College of Pharmacy. The award honors a College alumnus or alumna who has made significant contributions to his or her community. A fund in her name also provides assistance to students in Alumnae Scholarship Housing who have been elected to membership in OSU honoraries. And the OSU Alumni Association established the Josephine Sitterle Failer Award for volunteer service to students. Its most recent recipient was James Miller, senior associate vice president for the Office of Technology Commercialization, whose many contributions include the renovation of a rundown fraternity house into a home for military veterans enrolled at Ohio State. Jo would be very proud.
Filed by C.N.