Strong Social Connection Grows Into Lifetime Commitment
As a former kindergarten teacher, Helen Daseler has always seen the potential in the smallest things.
"We came when Las Vegas was small," she says, "and UNLV was smaller."
Helen and her late husband, Jack, founded the Las Vegas Day School in 1961. It was the first nonsectarian, nondenominational private school established in the state of Nevada. It began in a home as a one-room schoolhouse with a handful of students, growing steadily over the years to become the successful private school it is today.
At approximately the same time, not far across town, another auspicious school had just opened. Nevada Southern University— now known as UNLV—was still a few years out from its first commencement ceremonies.
The initial draw to UNLV for Helen and Jack was not their lifelong commitment to learning, as one might expect. True, they turned to the university for continuing education, but it was the excitement of the Rebels' sports programs that held their keen interest.
"We had a large social connection through UNLV athletics," Helen, a physical education major, explains.
That connection evolved into a commitment. The Daselers have been donors to various UNLV programs for more than 25 years, knowing firsthand how private support can invent the future for education.
Early in the history of the Las Vegas Day School, there was an event that perhaps foreshadowed Helen's commitment to education beyond her time in the classroom. An old family friend—Anna G. Derry, for whom the school's library is dedicated—left money to Helen in her will, as a gesture of her fondness for Helen. The Daselers leveraged the gift to help build the Las Vegas Day School.
Recently, Helen established a charitable gift to UNLV through her estate plan to provide scholarships for future generations of UNLV students. Her gift allows the Daselers to continue their devotion for quality education in our community.
"I'm so glad we came to Las Vegas when we did, saw it the way it was, watched it develop and grow, and saw all of the educational system and the other fabulous community things growing," Helen said in a 1997 interview for UNLV's Oral History Project. "And I think we have a right to be very proud of Las Vegas and to be part of our community."