Marquette couple give major gift to Wellness + Recreation facility to honor son

Michael Pfefferle, Arts, ’94, gathers with his kids, Sam, Chloe and Charlie. Michael Pfefferle passed away at the age of 50 in 2021 after a courageous battle with cancer. Michael’s parents, John Pfefferle, Arts, ’66, and his wife Lynn, made a generous gift in memoriam of Michael.

As Marquette University leaders continue to drive fundraising efforts for a reimagined Wellness + Recreation facility, a Marquette couple stepped forward and made a $1.5 million gift in honor of their son. John Pfefferle, Arts, ’66, and his wife Lynn, said that their gift is in memoriam to their son, Michael — also an alumnus — and that they are proud to “shine his light on the Marquette University campus” and “help create a sense of belonging for what mattered most to him — faith, family and friends.”

In recognition of this major gift, the university will launch the Michael Pfefferle Classic, which will have 52 intramural basketball teams competing across four divisions.

Michael Pfefferle, Arts, ’94, passed away at the age of 50 in 2021 after a courageous battle with cancer. “Mike deeply loved Marquette, and he spent countless hours sharing his passion for sports with his kids, coaching or supporting them in all of their athletic events,” John and Lynn Pfefferle said.

Michael Pfefferle’s son, Charlie, is in his first year at Marquette. His niece, Emma Oelhafen, is a junior, and his nephew, Edward Oelhafen, will attend Marquette next year. “We are thrilled that so many of our family members continue to benefit from the Marquette ideals,” the Pfefferles said.

In recognition of the Pfefferles’ generous gift, the university will name one of its intramural basketball courts within the new Wellness + Recreation facility in recognition of Michael and also honor him through the men’s and women’s intramural championship basketball tournament — the Michael Pfefferle Classic.

“This tremendous gift by the Pfefferle family connects closely to our mission and our aspiration to continually care for our students in every aspect of their lives,” President Michael Lovell said. “We are proud to honor Michael in this unique way that will inspire students far into the future.”

Michael Pfefferle and his wife, Lydie.

This year, the Michael Pfefferle Classic will have 52 intramural basketball teams competing across four divisions, according to John Sweeney, director of recreational sports.

When the revitalized facility opens in January 2025, the approximately 180,000-square-foot space will bring together campus fitness and recreation facilities with the Counseling Center and the Marquette University Medical Clinic — centralizing student services that are currently dispersed across campus. Recreation and fitness features include updated basketball, tennis and multipurpose courts, fitness and spin studios, and a 25-yard pool.

The university expects more than 200,000 annual visits to the facility, which will increase the recreation space of the current Helfaer Tennis and Recreation Center by 25 percent and nearly double the wellness and medical space offered on campus today.

John Pfefferle, Arts, ’66, and his wife Lynn.

Vice President for University Advancement Tim McMahon shared that Marquette alumni, parents and friends have now contributed $22 million to date for this signature Time to Rise capital project. “John and Lynn’s generous gift combines their love and passion for their son with the promise of our future. We are incredibly thankful to the Pfefferle family for their philanthropic leadership at a momentous time in Marquette’s history,” McMahon said.

Marquette’s historic Time to Rise campaign continues to gain momentum, recently surpassing $650 million toward its $750 million goal. The Time to Rise campaign has secured more than 61,000 donors with more than 29,000 (48%) of these donors making their first-ever gift to Marquette.

Building on its founding mission to provide an accessible education, Marquette has raised more than $267 million in scholarship funds. In addition, 726 donors have given $100,000 or greater in commitments, and 128 donors have given $1 million or greater.