St. Mary’s University mourns the passing of one of its long-time supporters, Willis E. O’Leary.

Mr. O’Leary was born in Vulcan, Alberta. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Calgary. He attended the University of Denver on a hockey scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He studied law at the University of British Columbia where he won many academic awards including the gold medal for highest standing in the 1962 graduating class. He then attended Harvard Law School on an academic scholarship and earned the degree of Master of Laws in 1963. 

Mr. O’Leary was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta in 1963. He practiced in Calgary until his appointment to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1984, and ten years later was raised to the Alberta Court of Appeal. Mr. O’Leary retired as a judge of the Court of Appeal of Alberta in September, 2006 after 12 years on the Court. 

Mr. O’Leary had an ongoing interest in legal education. He administered the Bar Admission Course on behalf of the Law Society of Alberta from 1975 to 1978. For several years prior to 1976 he was a member of the joint Canadian Bar Association/Law Society of Alberta Committee on continuing legal education. He was one of the founding directors of the Legal Education Society of Alberta and served as its Chairman for two years and as a director of the Society for many years. From 1974 to 1978 he was the director of the commercial law program for the Society of Industrial Accountants.

At St. Mary’s, we are honoured and grateful to have known Mr. O’Leary as a friend and long-time supporter. He and his wife Betty attended many St. Mary’s events and could often been seen interacting with the students at their table. Together, they established the Willis and Betty O’Leary Undergraduate Degree Program Scholarships which have been awarded since 2008, and the O’Leary Family Scholarships which have been awarded since 2011. Their support of the Awards Program ensures than many students will receive these annual awards which have grown in number and value since inception.

St. Mary’s was truly blessed and privileged to have Mr. O’Leary as a member of the University’s community.

Willis O’Leary passed away on November 21, 2021 at the age of 90 years

Donation in Memory of Willis E. O’Leary