Creighton couple felt called to give back to their matchmaker

Aug 14, 2019 By Micah Mertes

More than 40 years since a fateful Welcome Week, David and Mary Pylipows’ relationship remains as strong as ever. As does their connection to Creighton, their belated matchmaker.

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Giving back to Creighton is something we felt so good about doing. Helping to make a Creighton education possible. We had such a wonderful experience, and now we want to share it.

David Pylipow
David Pylipow BSBA’80
David and Mary Pylipow
David and Mary Pylipow

They met as Creighton freshmen during Welcome Week and became fast friends, thanks in part to a somewhat misleading t-shirt.   

David Pylipow, BSBA’80, wore his New York City shirt. Mary Pylipow, BS’80, MD’84, (then Mary Hoff), came to Creighton from New York.  

Mary: “Are you from New York, too?”  

Dave: “No. New Jersey.”  

And that was that. Though it didn’t seem like that at the time.   

For the better part of the next decade, the not-yet couple played out the plot of a “When Harry Met Sally”-esque romcom.   

“The quick version,” Dave said, “we went as dates to the first Creighton dance of our freshman year. The second dance … we did not.”   

That pattern of coming together and drifting apart and coming back together continued for nine years.  

But even when they were dating other people, they remained close friends. By the time they finally got together for good and announced the news to their friends, the consensus was a relieved, “Well, it’s about time!”  

More than 40 years since that fateful Welcome Week, the Pylipows’ relationship remains as strong as ever. As does their connection to Creighton, their belated matchmaker.  

Creighton has remained a big part of the Pylipows’ lives. To bolster their bond with the University, they’ve each established scholarships for their respective school and college: Mary to the School of Medicine, and Dave to Creighton’s Heider College of Business.  

Recently, they committed a significant deferred gift to each fund.  

The Pylipows said they’re at that point in their lives where they felt called to give back to the University.   

“We believe in the holistic education that Creighton provides, and we wanted to find ways to continue supporting the University,” Dave said. “As we progressed in our family life and careers, we became increasingly aware of the Jesuit influence on our lives. It’s a part of why we remain so committed to Creighton today.”     

Each of the Pylipows’ scholarship funds speaks to their own specific Creighton experience. What Creighton taught them. How it shaped them. And now, what they want to help pass on.  

Dave’s fund, the David Pylipow Endowed Scholarship for Ethical Leadership in Business, reflects the Heider College of Business’ commitment to ethics.  

“At business school, there was a fusion of ethical thinking and moral values to Creighton’s classes,” he said. “That has stuck with me ever since. It shaped good business thinking, but it also gave me a sense of moral responsibility as a business leader.”  

That sense of responsibility carried on through his career, when he worked as a human resources executive for such businesses as Hallmark Cards, Supervalu, and Ahold Delhaize, before retiring last year.     

Mary’s fund, the Dr. Mary Hoff Pylipow Time, Talent and Treasure Endowed Scholarship Fund, reflects her hope that future doctors can receive the same transformational education she did at Creighton.   

“I still remember the first day of medical school,” Mary said. “They congratulated us: ‘You all got in! But now you’re not competing against each other. You’re competing against this huge volume of information you need to learn. And we’re here to help, and you’re here to help each other.’”  

That mindset stuck with Mary. As did the med school’s infusion of ethics.  

Mary is a neonatologist, and throughout her career she’s faced countless tough calls and life-or-death decisions. Because of her Creighton education, she said, she felt more at ease approaching ethical dilemmas. 

“Not that I or any one person can provide all the answers,” she said. “But we can help families we care for to face those difficult decisions. It’s very easy in medicine to get focused on the science and nothing else. But Creighton taught me more than that.”  

The Pylipows now live in North Carolina, but the Jesuit, Catholic University in Omaha remains on their mind. Not only as a place of warm memories but as their means of giving back and supporting their respective professions.   

“It’s something we felt so good about doing,” Dave said. “Helping to make a Creighton education possible. We had such a wonderful experience, and now we want to share it.”  

Because Creighton, he said, can help you figure out how to live a good, values-based life.    

And sometimes — if you wait long enough — it can show you with whom to live that life.