This year, as we celebrate the centennial of Strub Hall, we honor the founding family who gave us our beloved Mayfield home—a remarkable place, where we live out Cornelia Connelly’s mission each day. The Strubs’ momentous gift to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus began a bold new chapter in the Mayfield story.
Our joyful Holy Child community is the direct result of the generosity of the Strub family—Charles and Vera, and the generations who have followed—who embody our “Actions Not Words” motto. The Strubs’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue the Society’s educational legacy as donors, trustees, students—and even as a Holy Child Sister.
Dr. Charles Strub was a man of many talents, having been both a successful dentist and baseball team owner in San Francisco, before heading south to establish the Santa Anita Park racetrack in 1934. America’s Best Racing described him as “one of those entrepreneurial businessmen seemingly capable of succeeding in any imaginable enterprise.” A graduate of Santa Clara University, his Jesuit mentors remained influential in his life, and that connection helped introduce the Strubs to the like-minded Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus. When the Strubs moved to San Marino, their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, entered first grade at the recently established Mayfield School on Euclid Avenue in 1936. The fast friendship the Strubs soon forged with the Holy Child Sisters was to set the course for Mayfield’s future.
By the mid-1940s, the K-12 Mayfield School was rapidly outgrowing its campus. The Strubs answered the Sisters’ prayers with the gift of home. They earmarked the empty Eagle Estate at 500 Bellefontaine Street as a potential site for a Holy Child school, but faced three years of contentious property and zoning battles. Charles, whose vision and tenacity were legendary, was undeterred. Mayfield Senior School opened on Dec. 17, 1950 with 69 students.
While her parents felt compelled to help the Sisters secure Mayfield’s future, Elizabeth answered a different Holy Child call—she entered the Society and professed her vows as a nun. She had established a “close bond” with the Sisters during her elementary school years, and identified closely with this Cornelia Connelly sentiment, often quoted by the nuns: “I belong all to God.” The words resonated deeply with a young Elizabeth, who says, “I had known from my very young years that I belonged all to God.” She returned to Mayfield Senior School in 1956 as Mother Elizabeth Mary to teach English and French.
Sr. Elizabeth recalls her years living and teaching at Mayfield with fondness. She embraced the school’s “tradition of loving joy,” and became Head of School from 1962-66. Sr. Elizabeth even wrote the formal case for Cornelia Connelly’s sainthood, a massive undertaking which eventually bestowed Connelly with the title “Venerable”—just a step away from full beatification—in 1992. When Sr. Elizabeth reflects on the role the Society of the Holy Child Jesus has played in her life, she says, “I found my home there. And I still do.”
The Strubs’ two sons, Peter and Robert, went into the family business at Santa Anita, but their two older daughters, Mary and Virginia—who married and started their own families—both served in leadership positions at Holy Child Schools.
Like their parents, Mary Strub Crowe and her sister, Virginia Strub Kelly, had a lifelong devotion to supporting Catholic education. Mary served on Mayfield’s Board of Trustees from 1971-1991, and was named an Honorary Trustee in 1995. And Virginia was one of the founding families of Holy Child Academy in Old Westbury, New York.
Virginia’s daughter, Linda Mennis, carries on the Holy Child connection. As a child, she attended the Holy Child Academy in Old Westbury and her daughter, Jessica Mennis Viets ’08, graduated from Mayfield. Linda continued the family tradition of serving on Mayfield’s Board from 2012-18. She and her husband, Liam, are also Holy Child Associates—lay members of the community who are devoted to the Society’s incarnational spirituality. “There’s so many ways of being Catholic, but I was raised in the charism of Cornelia and that still touches me,” Linda says. “I wanted to still be connected to that kind of hope and joy.” Linda continues to embody the boldness and determination that characterized her grandparents, which she describes as: “Think of what you can do, dream big, and go for it.”
This life-affirming ideology lives on through her daughter, Jessica ’08, who oversees a social impact initiative through Kate Spade, which empowers and supports female artisans in Rwanda. The “Actions Not Words” ethos is alive in this fourth-generation Strub, whose 21st-century style of philanthropic work could not have been imagined by her great-grandparents, but would not have been possible without the seeds they planted.
We celebrate and honor the entire Strub family, not only for the transformative gift of our Bellefontaine campus, but also for their ongoing support, which has made Mayfield into the place we know and love—our forever home. Here’s to the next 100 years!