Ives’ $1M Gift to YSU Reflects ‘Life Well Lived’
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Helga Ives would go up the two flights of stairs in her split-level house – assisted by a pair of canes — several times a day to spend time in her beloved library, Scott Schulick recalls.
“And indeed it was a library, filled with over 5,000 volumes spanning nearly a century,” plus more than 1,400 LP records of classical music, Schulick continued. Like the rest of the house, any other open shelf or wall space was adorned with artifacts from travels to the 46 countries she and her late husband, David, visited.
“The room teemed with knowledge of a life well lived by Helga and David Ives,” observed Schulick, co-trustee of the David & Helga Ives Trust and a former YSU trustee.
Most of the library’s books and records were donated to Maag Library, part of the gift to Youngstown State University, where David Ives taught for 31 years, until 1984. YSU officials marked the donation from the Ives’ estate – which also included a $1 million gift to the university — at a news conference Wednesday at DeBartolo Hall.
David Ives, who died in 1991, was a professor of humanities, Latin, Greek, world literature, English, Italian, ancient history and western civilization. He met his future wife when he served in Italy during World War II.
Helga de Agostini, who was born on the Istrian Peninsula, was studying at medical school when Nazi Germany took her as a prisoner of war and forced her to work in field hospitals treating German soldiers, said Mark Makoski, the Ives trust’s other co-trustee. Making her way back to her hometown after the war had ended, she wound up in the town where David Ives, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Forces, was serving as town major.
“He took a fancy to her and pursued her,” Makoski said. They married in 1946 and made their way to the Youngstown area, where he took a job at what was then Youngstown College.
“Professor Ives was an outstanding scholar, teacher, champion for the university and a respected member of our community,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.
Tressel also noted that David Ives attended Baldwin-Wallace College, “where many fine scholars came from.” Tressel also went to Baldwin-Wallace.
While David Ives’ dedication to his vocation was well established, Schulick shared more about Helga’s “less conspicuous avocation for teaching.” Business was always discussed briefly when he visited her home to advise her, but she was “always ready to engage in lively conversation, which led to the revelation of many lessons for the visitor,” he recalled.
“She had a keen intellect and was quite inquisitive, wanting to know about you, your background, your likes and interests, and your opinions,” he continued. “She was not judgmental. She wanted to learn from you as much as you were willing to learn from her in the process. She challenged and wanted to be challenged.”
Lessons shared during those visits included personal stories and family history, a “living history” of the evolution of YSU and the people who built it, the events of World War II and postwar Europe, and topics as diverse as philosophy, religion, current events, travel, cooking and gardening.
“She was opinionated and an independent thinker. I always left visits with Helga wanting more – that is, more knowledge,” Schulick said. He also left thinking he should have paid more attention during many of his classes or “should have taken a few more liberal arts courses along the way, which are the foundation of what it truly means to be educated.”
The majority of the $1 million donation — $715,076 – will be used to establish the David and Helga Ives Distinguished Visiting Humanities Scholar program.
The faculty position is designed to “promote undergraduate research in the humanities, foster an interdisciplinary scholarly community and further enhance the national reputation of our programs in English, foreign languages, history and philosophy, and religious studies,” said Dr. Kristine Blair, the new dean of YSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
The program, which will allow YSU to bring to the campus distinguished scholars in the humanities to teach classes, present seminars and conduct research, will rotate among humanities disciplines. The first hire will be in languages in the 2017-2018 academic year, Blair said.
The remainder of the funds will go to enhance the existing David and Helga Ives Humanities Scholarship and David and Sander Ives Award and add to the endowment for the YSU English Festival. The flagpole in front of the YSU Veterans Resource Center will be named for David Ives to recognize a $50,000 contribution to the center, which will receive several of Ives’ military artifacts.
A century-old tapestry also was donated to the dean’s office and material related to YSU and the Ives family was donated to the University Archives.
Both David and Helga Ives “would be very much satisfied with the structure of how things are” regarding their trusts’ gift, Makoski remarked.
“The Ives family gave their life’s work to our Valley,” Tressel said. “Now it is our responsibility to take their life’s work and their treasures to make wonderful things happen.”
Pictured: David and Helga Ives on their wedding day in 1946.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.