Supporting generations of CBS students

An unexpected tragedy inspired Dave and Mary Loveless to create a memorial scholarship for their son more than three decades ago, and they've continued to support CBS students ever since.
June 30, 2020

Mary Loveless keeps two large scrapbooks filled with photos and letters from the 32 students who have received the College of Biological Sciences Michael Loveless Memorial Scholarship since it was established in 1988.

As she paged through the books recently, pointing out various recipients whom she and her husband, Dave, have met at CBS scholarship dinners over the years, she noted, “I think all but one of them has gone into the medical field.”

Just like her son, Michael (BS Biology, ’86), who had just entered his first year of medical school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill when he died unexpectedly in September 1987. An avid runner through high school and college, Michael collapsed during a road race in Duke Forest after completing the first mile in the 3.1-mile race. His death had to do with his body’s electrical system, Mary explained. “His heart was beating so fast.”

June 9 would have been Michael’s 57th birthday. “It has been tough,” his mother said.

Within a year after Michael’s death, Dave and Mary established three scholarships in his name: two at his high school, United South Central High School in Wells, and the CBS memorial scholarship. That was part of the healing process, they said. 

“It was something that helped us get through it by helping others,” Mary said. “He was such a scholar himself. Even [when he was] little, he always had a book in his hands. He was just always reading.”

Michael enrolled at the U in 1982 with the intention of becoming an engineer, but a biology seminar on the St. Paul campus “sold him,” his dad said, and he changed his major to biology. When Michael was a junior, he received a CBS merit scholarship. “At that time they were only giving four scholarships. There was not much of a scholarship program,” Dave said. “When he passed away, we thought, ‘Let’s give that scholarship back.’ ” 

The Lovelesses have done just that for 33 years. They are the longest continuous scholarship donors at CBS. The college now boasts nearly 50 annual scholarship opportunities for new and continuing students.

Both Mary and Dave have an attachment to the U’s St. Paul campus. That’s where they met. They both were living in the campus’s new dormitory, Bailey Hall, in the late 1950s. Dave worked the switchboard in the center lounge that separated the men’s wing from the women’s wing, giving him ample opportunity to meet residents from both sides of the building.

Dave earned a degree in poultry husbandry in 1960. Mary worked on a home economics degree until the couple married. They settled in Dave’s hometown, Wells, in southern Minnesota, where they raised livestock and a variety of crops until retiring in 1999. They have been deeply involved in their community, belonging to various service organizations. Mary sings in her church’s choir and is also a member of the bell choir. Dave has delivered Meals on Wheels to area seniors for years and has continued during the state shutdown in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Loveless’ daughter, Patty Otteson, is a schoolteacher in Red Wing. She and her husband,  Todd, have two daughters. Amy is a nurse in St. Paul, and Emily is studying to be a nurse at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Meeting scholarship recipients at the CBS scholarship dinner each year has been a greatly satisfying experience, Mary said. A couple of highlights include giving a scholarship to a CBS student from Wells and one to a student from Mary’s hometown, Benson, Minn.

“It’s always wonderful,” Mary said. “They have wonderful stories. We get to meet their families and learn what their desire is down the road. They are so intelligent and so fun and are going to go places in the world. It’s amazing.” —Kristal Leebrick