MU mourns loss of Preston Caruthers and Dr. Linda McMahon

MU mourns loss of Preston Caruthers and Dr. Linda McMahon


During this year’s holiday season, two impactful figures in the Marymount University community passed away – one longtime financial supporter and higher education advocate in Preston Caruthers, and a dedicated Professor Emerita and former Vice President of Student Affairs in Dr. Linda McMahon who pledged more than 40 years of service to the institution.

Caruthers – a local developer, civic leader and philanthropist – died at the age of 95 on New Year’s Day. Well known as “Mr. Arlington” for his “tireless work to enhance the quality of life of his fellow residents,” he was a proud veteran who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before moving to the national capital region. After marrying his wife Jeanne in 1948, they made Arlington their home and started their own home construction company, shifting over time into developing high-rise apartments and office buildings.

A leader in Northern Virginia’s business, civic and political realms, the deepest passion for Caruthers was his keen sense of the value of education – what he called America’s most precious asset and resource. He served as Chairman of the Arlington County School Board, was a board member of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) and was appointed President of the Virginia State Board of Education. As a VFIC trustee, he co-sponsored Marymount’s membership in the organization.

His support for Marymount, however, didn’t end there. Caruthers was instrumental in the University’s acquisition of its Ballston Campus, and in 1989 the family established the Friends of Nursing program at what is now the Virginia Hospital Center. This recognizes nursing excellence and promotes the profession, and has resulted in scholarships for numerous Marymount students. In 2018, the Caruthers family again stepped up to the plate and partnered with the Virginia Hospital Center Foundation to provide $400,000 in scholarships for Marymount Nursing students, with awardees working directly with hospital staff to provide critically needed care in their own community while augmenting their exceptional education. Recently, Preston and Jeanne provided the naming gift towards the construction of Caruthers Hall, where Marymount’s Nursing program is located.

“I have long observed that the students who attend Marymount are wonderful young people. They are bright, compassionate and ethical. They have big dreams for the future,” Preston observed at the building’s opening. “The new science and health science building will benefit these terrific young people for years to come. It will also benefit the wider community – by giving Marymount students every educational advantage, we ensure that they will go forth from the University well prepared to serve others and make a positive difference in the world.”

“Preston Caruthers was a valued and longtime friend of Marymount University,” said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University. “He was a true counselor and major philanthropic supporter, and we are honored to have a building named in his honor on campus. He greatly valued education in general, and private education and Marymount in particular. In fact, through his efforts Marymount joined the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, a group supporting scholarships for private institutions in Virginia — and our involvement continues to this day. He will be missed dearly, but we are truly blessed to continue our relationship with the Caruthers family.”

Meanwhile, on December 27, Dr. Linda McMahon died peacefully after a long illness at the age of 80, surrounded by her family in Michigan. A Professor Emerita of History and Politics, she began teaching courses at Marymount in 1965 and served as the University’s Chief Student Affairs Officer until 2003, when she stepped down from the Vice President position to return to her faculty role on a full-time basis. She continued that work at Marymount until her retirement in 2012. During that time, she served as Chair of the Department of History and Politics starting in 2007, and was also a member of the Liberal Arts Task Force, which was responsible for revising the University’s Liberal Arts Core. In recognition of her impact at Marymount, she was awarded the Sister Majella Berg Service Medal – the highest honor for service bestowed by the institution.

“This has been a joy,” Dr. McMahon said upon her retirement. “It has been truly a blessing for me. The most meaningful part…has been working with students.”

In addition to her many accomplishments on the academic side, Dr. McMahon is well known for helping transform the Marymount Athletics program into what it is today. She oversaw athletics as part of her Student Affairs role and presided over several noteworthy achievements. These include successful NCAA membership acceptance, expanding the number of teams from four to 12, transitioning from an all-female to a co-ed school, leading the change from part-time to full-time coaches, renovating the Lee Center and securing permanent fields for sports teams. She was inducted into Marymount’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

“Linda McMahon loved Marymount University more than words can express, and her life was led by her strong Catholic faith which was evident by the way she lived,” said Lita Treacy ’60, member of Marymount University’s Board of Trustees. “In addition to being a dedicated professor and department chair for the History and Politics programs, her attendance at sporting events was always uplifting for our student-athletes.”

Dr. McMahon was also committed to helping the less fortunate and underserved in Northern Virginia. From 1991 to 2021, she was the longest-serving board member for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, and helped grow the ministry twofold during her tenure as Chairman from 2003 to 2011. In addition, she served on the Arlington Catholic Herald’s Board of Directors from 1990 to 2000, and also dedicated gifts to Marymount scholarships and funds for 34 consecutive years.

A Memorial Mass will be held at Marymount’s Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel at noon on January 27 to celebrate her life and recognize her many contributions to the Marymount community. Those who desire to make a contribution in her memory may do so by clicking here to direct a gift to the Dr. Linda R. McMahon Scholarship for students with financial need.