Papagna Family Gives $200K for YSU Planetarium

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The family of the late William T. Papagna has given $200,000 to Youngstown State University to fund the operations of the planetarium in Ward Beecher Hall.

The president of Youngstown State, Jim Tressel, met with the family outside the planetarium on a bench dedicated to Papagna’s memory. The bench is part of the university campus beautification initiative.

Papagna, a native of Youngstown who went on to become a successful businessman in Las Vegas, established a family trust to help fund the planetarium. Some of the proceeds were directed to the bench that recognizes Papagna’s philanthropy.

“William Papagna was a philanthropist, and his two most valued causes were education and family,” Tressel said to 27 members of Papagna’s family during ceremonies held recently outside Ward Beecher Hall. “Youngstown was his hometown, and we are so grateful that he provided this tremendously valuable gift to YSU.”

The family, some of whom came from California, Utah, Nevada and Georgia, reunited to pay tribute to “Uncle Bill,” his nephew Kan Pagagan, an alumnus of YSU, being one who paid homage.

Papagna was born in Youngstown in 1919, a first-generation Italian-American whose mother, Rosa Papagna, actively campaigned for women’s suffrage in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Papagna reached maturity to serve in the Army Air Forces during World War II when he was a contract specialist on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

While Papagna did not attend YSU, he valued education and helped several of his nephews and nieces pay for their college educations. As a successful businessman, he supported youth programs in Las Vegas.

“Our Uncle Bill made it possible for three generations to go to college,” said Becky Rose, a niece and co-trustee for the family trust.

Pictured: Members of the Papagna family gather outside the planetarium with YSU President Jim Tressel.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.