"Find a Need and Fill It" -- A Generous Alumnus Gives Back

George Dini’s '46 commitment to helping others and his can-do spirit are captured in his favorite saying, “Find a need and fill it.” An avid volunteer and community organizer, George has served on several nonprofit boards including the Bay Area USO, the Oakland Symphony, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He currently serves on the board of St. Vincent DePaul at Saint Leander’s parish.

George’s generous spirit extends to the students of Saint Mary’s College, whom he supports through gifts to the Annual Scholarship Fund and the East Bay Scholarship Fund. He has also made the College part of his legacy, with a bequest in his will.

The son of Italian immigrants, the value of education was instilled in George by his family, who strongly encouraged his studies. This deeply held value motivates George to support scholarships for students who would not otherwise be able to afford a Saint Mary’s education. “Education is a key to success and happiness in life,” George said. “If you’re educated, you can get a good job and build a happy life for you and your family. Education provides an important foundation for a successful life.”

While at the College, George enjoyed playing on the football team. As he put it, their 1944 season was a perfect one. “We played five games, and lost all five,” he joked, noting that the College had about 200 students but competed against teams from Cal, USC, and UCLA. But as George and teammate Neil Sweeney '50 noted, the team played in the Sugar Bowl in 1946, thanks to the addition of “whiz kids,” and All-American Herman Widemeyer '49. “We went from rags to riches,” said Neil, who described George as “an upbeat person and happy guy” who was “more mature than most of us 17-year-olds on the team.” George also worked on the Collegian and served on the Rally Committee. He earned a degree in economics and business administration, and enjoyed classes with Brother Jerome in economics, and Jim Haggerty in the Great Books and philosophy.

Another way that George gave back to the College and to the alumni of his generation was to help organize a “Reunion of the 40s and 50s” for veteran alumni whose education had been interrupted by their service in WWII. The reunion, which was held in October, 2005, was a highly successful event attended by hundreds of alumni veterans and their wives. Like many of his classmates of that era, George’s education was interrupted by his wartime service. While enrolled at the College, he enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps and was called to active duty with 30 other students in March, 1943. When George returned to the College in 1944, he took classes in buildings that the Navy had built on campus (Splinters Hall) for pre-flight training facilities. George graduated with a group of 14 students, including 11 student brothers. 

An Oakland native, George had a thirty-four-year career with the City of Oakland, working in six different departments prior to retiring as deputy city manager. George also earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

George had many stories about his time at the College and campus life in the 1940s. Being a “day dog” (commuter student), he would pick up other students in his 1935 Plymouth Sedan on the way to campus. At the time, the football practice field was alongside the railroad tracks near the current College entrance. “My fellow students and I jumped on a freight train and rode the rails to 40th and Broadway in Oakland,” he said. George described his years at the College as a wonderful time at a special place, and expressed gratitude that he can give back and help to provide a unique Saint Mary’s experience for other students.