Sole Surviving Member of Carlow’s First Graduating Class Turns 107 on Saturday

Alice McKeever Riley, the sole surviving member of Carlow’s first graduating class, will turn 107 on Saturday, June 17.

Marketing and Communications For Immediate Release
Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations June 15, 2017
412.578.2095 (phone)
412.260.6807 (cell)
412.578.2080 (fax)

Alice McKeever Riley, Class of 1933, Lives with Daughter in Springfield, Illinois

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Alice McKeever Riley, the sole surviving member of the first graduating class (1933) at Carlow University (then known as Mount Mercy College), will turn 107 on Saturday, June 17.

Riley lives in the Sacred Heart Convent of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, with her daughter, Sister Rose Marie Riley, OP.  Aside from Alice being confined to a wheelchair and hard of hearing, her daughter reports that everyone – “including mom” – is amazed at her health.  “She reminds us daily that we come from God and will return to God,” said Sister Rose Marie.  “Our family celebrated her birthday with her last weekend.  Nothing makes her happier than to be surrounded by family and friends.”

The McKeever family lived on Mt. Washington, and Alice attended St. Mary of the Mount grade school before enrolling at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in 8th grade, a school that was located on the Carlow campus.  When Mount Mercy College opened in 1929, Alice was ready to continue her education.

“My parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college,” Alice told the Carlow Journal on the occasion of her 100th birthday celebration.  “Papa believed that women should have a good education, just like men.  My twin brothers (who attended Duquesne University) were the oldest, followed by four girls.  He wanted all of us to go to college, and so did Mama.  I never thought of it, but I guess Papa believed in equality for women back then.”

The Sisters of Mercy founded Mount Mercy College in September 1929, just weeks before the stock market crash of October ushered in the Great Depression.  The Depression caused many worthy students to forego  their dreams of college, but the McKeever family all worked and took extra jobs to help with the cost of college.  Alice worked at Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store, polishing all of the equipment before she went home each night.

Alice McKeever Riley earned her bachelor’s of science degree in home economics from Mount Mercy College in 1933.  She worked as a teacher in a number of schools until her retirement in 1974.

From the aforementioned interview with the Carlow Journal, she said, “I have had 100 fabulous years and that is all part of God’s plan.  I always believed in keeping busy.  I always enjoyed sewing, reading, and teaching the children to sew.  I tried to eat well, but didn’t have a strict diet.  I like my vanilla ice cream too much!”


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s eleven athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

© Copyright 2022 Carlow University. All rights reserved.