Kylie Jenner, Lady Gaga, Tom Brady, Post Malone. These are all names that are recognizable by college-aged students today. I bet many students not only know the names, but could tell you information about the person, whether it be significant others’ names, children, businesses, a song or maybe even an interesting fact about that individual. However, one lesser known name amongst people of this generation is A.J. Palumbo.
Gannon University students hear or maybe even say this name every day. On campus, we have A.J.’s Way and the A.J. Palumbo Center. These two places are integral parts of Gannon’s campus — we attend classes at the Palumbo center every day, walk on A.J.’s Way with friends and even see it lit up during Christmas time. But how many Gannon students actually know who A.J. Palumbo is?
If I were to guess, I would say not very many. If you look closely while walking on A.J.’s Way, you will notice a plaque. This plaque details just a few highlights about the life of A.J. Palumbo, but many students have probably never even stopped to glance at it.
Antonio John “A.J.” Palumbo was born in Clearfield County in 1906. He was the son of poor Italian immigrants and was one of five children.
Although he focused on donating much of his fortune to secondary education institutes, Palumbo never went to high school. At the age of 12, he started working with his father and by his mid-20s he and his father bought a coal company. By age 41 Palumbo had formed his own company, New Shawmut Mining. He dedicated his life to the company and worked there until his death.
Although he tagged himself p.c.m., standing for poor coal miner, Palumbo built his empire by purchasing cheap property, which he would then rent out, as well as by being a smart investor. In doing this, he managed to take his eighth-grade education and become a multimillionare.
Although Palumbo had endless options of what he could have done with his fortune, he decided to give to a number of different secondary education institutions as well as hospitals. Palumbo had strong reasons for this.
His wife is quoted as saying “[Palumbo] said the children are the future of the world, that’s why [Palumbo] gave so many donations to colleges and medical facilities.”
In addition to bestowing over $1.7 million of his riches to our own Erie university, Palumbo donated $5 million to Duquesne Unversity in Pittsburgh, as well as generous gifts to La Roche College, Saint Vincent College, Carlow University and the Penn State University Du Bois campus. At all of these universities you can find numerous athletic facilities and academic buildings stapled with the last name of the man who made their construction possible.
In addition to donating to secondary education, Palumbo gave back to the youth of America through a pediatric intensive care unit at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Palumbo passed away on Dec. 16, 2002, at the age of 96 from congestive heart failure.
Through his life of generous donations and hard work, Palumbo left behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. His model of hard work is one that serves as an example to all students and young people across the nation and across the world.