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Helias band receives $50K donation

Helias band receives $50K donation

October 21st, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Helias High School Band practices in the school's band room Thursday morning, Jan. 19, 2017. Tom Smyth directs the young musicians during the morning class.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Helias High School announced Friday the family of Harry M. "Bud" and Anna Leah Agniel donated $50,000 in their honor to the school's band program.

The Agniels' children attended Helias from 1961-77. Daughter Michele Agniel Stephens said in a news release from the school the siblings' fond memories of their time at Helias led to the decision to donate.

"We are so grateful and excited to be able to used the funds for band instruments according to the family's wishes," Helias President the Rev. Stephen Jones said in the release. "The Agniel family is a great example for our students of giving back to the community in a very generous fashion."

There was not any further information immediately available about what kind and how many instruments the money would be able to purchase.

Helias Director of Communications and Admissions Sandy Hentges said an announcement would be made at halftime of Friday's football game to thank the Agniel family.

The Helias band program has 56 members and continues to grow, according to the news release.

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"We are humbled by the generosity of a family that was inspired by the Helias band 40 years ago, and we want to keep that spirit alive in our school family," band director Tom Smyth said in the release.

Bud and Anna Leah were married for 60 years and had six children — two daughters, three sons and another son who died in 1971.

Bud was born in St. Louis, raised in Sedalia and moved to Jefferson City in 1939 to graduate from Jefferson City High School in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, was honorably discharged and became an optometrist. He opened a private practice in Jefferson City and retired in 1986 after more than 40 years of practice. He was awarded "The Missouri Optometrist of the Year" in 1975.

Anna Leah was born and raised in Kansas City where she and Bud married in September 1945.

The couple were active members of St. Peter Church in Jefferson City: Bud as a permanent deacon, member of Knights of Columbus and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; Anna Leah in Guadalupe Church Circle, Altar Sodality, Daughters of Isabella and Lady of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, in addition to other parish activities.

Both were active in prison ministry, too. She volunteered at the Renz Correctional Facility and "Patch" program, was a board member of the Renz "Chips" program and volunteered at a halfway house for female offenders.

He received the 2004 Missouri Catholic Conference's Citizen Recognition Award in honor of his years of service in prison ministry. He also volunteered for Jefferson City Hospice, and the couple together received the Hospice Outstanding Achievement award for volunteer service in 1998.

Bud died in December 2005 in San Antonio, Texas, at age 82. Anna Leah died in Dallas, Texas, in August 2016 at 93.