The words to the Saint Rose alma mater came quickly to music student Winifred McGowan Quinn, a member of the first graduating class. Her legacy lives on each time it is performed. Winifred McGowan Quinn, a talented musician and a member of the College’s founding class, wrote what would become the Saint Rose alma mater in minutes.
“She said the words flowed into her mind so quickly she almost had trouble writing them down fast enough,” said McGowan’s daughter, Mary Ellen Quinn D’Andrea ’64. “She was always very proud she wrote that song.”
When Quinn D’Andrea came to Saint Rose in 1960, 40 years after her mother started, she loved hearing the song. But she refrained from mentioning that her mom was the composer. Quinn D’Andrea’s daughter, Mandy G’17, was also proud of her grandmother’s legacy. Now, Winifred McGowan Quinn’s great-granddaughter, Mia D’Andrea, has started at Saint Rose, aware of the family’s strong ties to the College.
McGowan (who later became Winifred McGowan Quinn) was the first Saint Rose music major. She went on to teach, perform at fundraisers, and play piano for silent movies. Her daughter can’t be sure what moved her to write the school song, which starts, “Saint Rose, you are worthy of glory, of praise, And to sing of your virtues our voices we raise,” and isn’t sure her mother even knew.
But she said hearing the alma mater evokes the spirit of that first class.
“I will say that my mother loved that college so deeply. It still makes me teary-eyed,” said Mary Ellen Quinn D’Andrea. “It was that whole first class. They put together so many of the traditions that continue to be carried out to this day.”