A Family Affair for Over a Century

The Cabot family in Saint Jude Chapel

“If you seek his monument, look around” is the translation of the famous epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren, at St. Paul’s London, of which he was the architect. Every worthwhile endeavor, be it the building of a great nation … or a great university … requires heroes, people who might not have set out to leave monuments, but share in the greatness achieved as a lasting sign of the good they have done in this life.

Saint Leo University is no exception. Many individuals and families have made significant contributions to Saint Leo over the past 126 years. High among them is the family of Mary Cannon Cabot ’71 and her husband, Dr. Robert J. Cabot ’71, ’06.

For Mary Cabot, her family’s support dates back for nearly a century. Mary’s grandfather, rancher Daniel A. Cannon Sr., was a confidant of Saint Leo’s first three abbots in their mission to build a great Catholic educational enterprise.

Mary’s father, Dan Jr., was salutatorian of the Saint Leo Prep Class of 1938. Abbot Marion Bowman recruited him for the first Saint Leo College Board of Trustees, and following his passing in 1973, Mary’s mom, Elizabeth Tousey Cannon, began her 18-year trusteeship.

Mary and her sisters attended Saint Leo, and it was here that Mary met her husband, Bob Cabot. The retired fire chief of Dade City, Bob is now in his 25th year of trustee service. In 2008, Bob and Mary experienced the joy of seeing Saint Leo master’s degrees conferred on their daughter, Kristen Cabot Brady, and son-in-law Ryan Brady.

Mary and Bob Cabot have supported Saint Leo University in just about every possible capacity—student, loyal alumna/alumnus, graduate student, faculty and staff member, Green and Gold Lions Athletic Booster, parent and parent-in-law of Saint Leo graduates, trustee. and benefactor.

Bob and Mary, the generations of Cannons before them, and the Bradys, who will carry on the family tradition, all have assumed the values of Saint Leo. Dan Sr. and Dan Jr., Elizabeth, Mary and Bob, and now Kristen and Ryan all live the Saint Leo values by doing well, doing good, and to the extent they are able, giving back.

Let’s look at some of their Saint Leo monuments.

Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library

Dan and Elizabeth Cannon and Bob and Mary Cabot shared the same understanding of service to Saint Leo—be interested, be informed, be enthusiastic, and be supportive. During the college’s formative years, Dan and Elizabeth were major benefactors, their philanthropy crowned by Elizabeth’s half-million dollar gift to complete funding of the 1986 expansion of what was rechristened the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library. The expansion enabled the growth of Saint Leo’s library collection to 150,000 volumes and state-of-the-art library technology.

Saint Jude Chapel

In 2008, when the Board of Trustees decided to include a chapel in the new Student Community Center, Bob and Mary saw the opportunity to assure Mary’s mother was remembered in Saint Leo’s history. They provided funds for Saint Jude Chapel, named for Elizabeth’s patron saint and, providentially, Bob’s middle name. The peaceful sanctuary, at the heart of the busiest confluence of campus life, is a monument to the faith of Elizabeth Tousey Cannon and her lifelong devotion to Saint Leo. Dan and Elizabeth were surely smiling down when Liam Brady, the fifth generation of Saint Leo Cannons, was baptized into the Catholic faith in the chapel dedicated to his great-grandmother’s memory.

Kirk Hall

Bob and Mary have enjoyed a front-row seat for the exhilarating journey “from good to great” of the 18-year presidency of Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr. Each time their university has asked for their support, their answer has been immediate, affirmative, and surpassingly generous. Whether for yearly sustained giving, for scholarships, for support of Lions athletic teams, or for -constructing the building that houses the Donald R. Tapia School of Business, the Cabot family is there to be counted, as always, among the first.

When the university embarked on the construction of a new larger academic building to replace Crawford Hall and then proposed that it honor their friend Dr. Kirk upon his retirement, Bob and Mary wanted to do something exceptional. With their daughter, Kristen, a Zephyrhills High School English teacher, and son-in-law, Ryan, a Pasco High School assistant principal, they proposed a cornerstone gift of $250,000.

Creating a Legacy

For the Cabots and Bradys to make such a generous commitment, planning was paramount by combining several different ways that such gifts can be made. They started by deciding what they could give right now and prudently plan to give over the next few years. They decided to fulfill this part of their pledge by making quarterly gifts over the next five years.

Then Bob and Mary looked at all of the things that make up their personal financial worth and how these assets would be disbursed after they have passed. They had already planned to include Saint Leo in their wills. Now they revisited their plan and put aside specific bequests in honor of Dr. Kirk.

Taken together, it added up to $250,000, a giant step toward the $5,000,000 needed to make the naming of Kirk Hall a reality. Whether the goal is $2,500, $25,000, $250,000, or more, that planning is how any ordinary person can become a hero and share in the monument that is Saint Leo University. Every student who experiences Saint Leo—whether at University Campus, at any of our education centers, or through our well-respected College of Online Learning—can thank people like the Cannons, the Cabots, the Bradys, and thousands of others who have looked inside their hearts and found ways to be the most effective philanthropists possible.

Continuing the Legacy

Kristen offered a unique perspective on the Cannon/Cabot legacy. “I was raised on this campus. We spent countless hours at the swimming pool, bowling alley, and shooting baskets in the gym. This was my ‘playground,’ ” said Kristen. “Being able to now share that with our son, Liam, a fourth generation Pasco native, is very rewarding and most humbling.” She explained further, “You just don’t leave this. It’s important to remain here to continue the legacy. “My grandparents’ sense of philanthropy permeated to us. It’s critical to know where you came from and to give back.”

If you seek their monument, look around. It is the great Catholic teaching university that began in Saint Leo, FL.


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