John Monsour ’69 has led a life akin to a great novel, full of travel and human connections, love and loss.
His life’s work — guiding people to a better life through mental health counseling — was born out talking to life-weary strangers while bartending on Block Island during the summers while he earned a bachelor’s degree in history at PC.
Wanting to do something that truly mattered with his life, he explored joining the Peace Corps and spent time in a monastery before earning advanced degrees in psychology and pursuing post-graduate studies at famed psychology institutes in Zurich and Washington, D.C.
He became the founder and executive director of a nonprofit counseling center in Florida, where he worked alongside the first love of his life, Kay, until she suddenly died from cancer. After her death, he took a counseling position in the northernmost native Eskimo villages of Alaska, where he married again and worked alongside his second wife, Betty. Sadly, Betty also succumbed to cancer. It was the combination of those losses, along with a desire to leave a legacy, that led him to establish a $500,000 charitable remainder trust to form the Dr. John V. Monsour Endowment for Counseling Education at PC.
“I was married to two really great, smart, accomplished women,” Monsour says. “That’s what was in the back of my mind: What kind of a legacy can I leave to honor them?”
His scholarship endowment is for master level students in the School of Professional Studies who have some desire to go into a counseling field. “Both of my wives got their doctorate degrees later in life, after raising families. I remember them both studying at the kitchen table late into the night, and it wasn’t easy,” he says. “There are a lot of very talented people in the same boat. So this is something that would make my heart feel at peace.”
Monsour says that he hopes establishing the endowment will also serve as a challenge to his former PC classmates to do something similar in honor of their upcoming 50th reunion in 2019. “I wanted to create something to help others and to give back,” he says, “but I wanted it to be something that matters — something real that continues beyond me.”
When Monsour came to campus for PC’s Centennial Celebration this past May, it was only the second time he’s been back in almost fifty years. “It was great to see how the college has really stayed true to its core values; it was very moving for me. It feels like PC grounded me and provided me with a template of how to be a caring, forgiving, gentle person. And I think that’s of value.”
John lives on the edge of the Mohave Desert in St. George, Utah.
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