Legacy of Dear Friend Lives On


In 2009, the Duck, former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, School of Music and Dance Dean Brad Foley, Lorry Lokey, and Leona and Robert DeArmond celebrated a successful expansion and renovation project at the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building.

Leona DeArmond—alumna, friend, and dedicated Duck—died September 5th at the age of 88. A 1951 UO music graduate from Tillamook, Leona studied voice and sang in the university choir. She and her husband Bob met as undergraduates and have given generously to the UO.

“Leona was one of our most loyal Ducks,” said University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill. “She served the university as a tireless leader, benefactor, and champion. Leona and Bob were close friends with another dedicated Medford Duck, the late Dave Frohnmayer, and they were our most ardent advocates in southern Oregon. 

“The impact of the DeArmonds’ contributions are evident across our campus—and through the lives of many students, faculty members, and alumni. She believed in the value of education, and it gave her great joy to help students fulfill their dreams through scholarships. I will miss Leona’s unwavering commitment and generous spirit.” 

In 2005, the DeArmonds’ leadership challenge gift helped launch the fundraising effort for construction of the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building, inspiring Lorry Lokey and other donors to contribute.  The academic wing of the building is named in Leona’s honor. 

One of the school’s four world-class Steinway grand pianos will also serve as a lasting reminder of Leona’s legacy. Named in her honor, the instrument was a gift to the UO from Bob, to surprise Leona on her birthday. And the school’s Florence “Penny” Vanderwicken Duprey Courtyard is named after Leona’s treasured college voice teacher. Over the years, Leona’s steadfast contributions have kept beautiful flowers growing in the courtyard. She also took great interest in the progress of DeArmond scholars. 

“Leona loved the University of Oregon,” said Associate Athletic Director Herb Yamanaka. “Every time you saw her, she was wearing something with the ‘O’ on it. She delighted in receiving letters from their scholarship recipients, hearing what they were up to, and hearing the music students perform.  

“I first met Leona and Bob in 1966, during the fundraising campaign to build Autzen Stadium. Since then, we’ve watched many Duck games, shared countless adventures, and become close friends. On her birthday, I’d send Leona one of my hand-made wooden bowls with her favorite green and yellow M&Ms. Over the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to call Leona every Monday—just to chat, ask how Bob is doing, and catch up. I’m going to miss those weekly phone calls to my dear friend.”

Leona and Bob both received the UO’s Presidential Medal in 2004. Their gifts have supported the School of Music and Dance, athletics, the Lundquist College of Business, UO Libraries, the Olum Child Development program, and other areas.

More recent gifts include funds for the construction of the UO’s Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library, a faculty chair in the Lundquist College of Business, and funds for PathwayOregon, a scholarship and support program for lower-income Oregonians.

—Ed Dorsch, BA ’94, MA ’99

 :: Tribute from UO School of Music and Dance