Paula Joy Reinhold’s,‘79, fascination and passion for the arts led to a lasting connection with former teacher

Paula ReinholdWhen she first met Sister Jeanne File, OSF, Paula Joy Reinhold, ’79, was somewhat dismayed by the art teacher’s stern demeanor.

“She was so tough,” recalls Reinhold. “I had transferred to Daemen College from another university and Sister Jeanne did not think I belonged in her senior-level art class because I had not taken earlier classes with her.”

Reinhold says a paper she wrote for the class was a turning point when Sister Jeanne gave her an “A” grade, noting on the paper, “I was not expecting you to have such insight. Welcome.” That note was the beginning of a student-teacher relationship that transformed into a lifelong friendship with Sister Jeanne, one of seven Sisters of St. Francis who founded Rosary Hill College (now Daemen College) in 1947.

“I felt like I had been knighted by the queen,” Reinhold says. “Looking back on my experience at Daemen, it was one of the sweetest times of my life thanks to Sister Jeanne.”

Reinhold and her husband, John, recently made a donation to Daemen to name a room in the Haberman Gacioch Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in honor of Sister Jeanne. She notes the room is designed as a study space or small library reflecting Sister Jeanne’s great intellect in the arts and many other subjects.

“I wanted to honor her and the impact she had on so many art students at Daemen,” says Reinhold. “At the same time, I am honoring the unique friendship we shared and for which I am forever grateful.”

Portrait of a Young Artist

Sister Jeanne File, OSF
Sister Jeanne File, OSF

Reinhold was born in Canada and grew up in Lewiston, N.Y., after her father began working for The Carborundum Co. He ultimately became president of the company, leading Carborundum through a period of rapid growth and great success. One of three children in the Joy family, she graduated from Madonna High School in Niagara Falls, where her interest in art and painting began to grow.

After attending a university in Wisconsin, Reinhold returned to Western New York to finish her degree in art at Daemen. “I majored in art in high school and I knew Daemen – known then as Rosary Hill – was highly regarded for its programs in the arts,” she recalls. “I always kept that in my heart, and while I was accepted at each school that I applied to in the Buffalo area, I felt so comfortable at Daemen.”

Little did she know at the time she enrolled that the best was yet to come at Daemen.

Lasting Friendship Formed

Once Sister Jeanne recognized Reinhold’s talent and passion for the arts, the teacher and student began to build what Reinhold calls an academic friendship. Sister Jeanne not only helped with her work in painting, she guided her in writing and other subjects.

Soon the two recognized a kindred spirit in one another, sharing tea and coffee between classes and talking about any subject. “We talked about everything and laughed together like a couple of young girls,” says Reinhold. “Our friendship grew and we became like sisters despite our age difference. She was so lovable.”

After graduating from Daemen with a bachelor’s degree in art, Reinhold and Sister Jeanne became closer than ever. When Reinhold was married, her immediate family was in attendance, along with Sister Jeanne. The teacher visited Reinhold often, spending time with her children, and several times had overnight stays with the family.

“There isn’t a person who knows me who doesn’t know about Sister Jeanne,” she says. “She was such a huge part of my life and influenced the artist that I have become.”

“There isn’t a person who knows me who doesn’t know about Sister Jeanne,” says Reinhold. “She was such a huge part of my life and influenced the artist that I have become.”

Sr. Jeanne photo DT 2016Painting and Giving

Reinhold paints in a variety of styles, including abstract, but says her work often is realistic. “Nothing in life is the way it seems and I express that in my art,” she explains. “I create art that is meant to speak to people in ways that may relate to their life situations.”

While she has exhibited in shows and galleries across the region and in Florida, Reinhold has also been very involved in a variety of philanthropic efforts. She notes this may be the influence of Sister Jeanne. “She was so full of goodness,” Reinhold says. “I learned about giving of the self from her.” Reinhold has volunteered her time and supported countless organizations, serving on boards such as the Western New York Women’s Fund, Kaleida Health System, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, The Gow School, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She was chair of the Burchfield Penny Art Center’s capital campaign that raised $36 million and led to the successful completion of a new state-of-theart building in Buffalo. Her leadership and work resulted in many awards and recognition, including Niagara University’s President’s Award of Distinction, SUNY Buffalo State’s Leadership Award, and the Burchfield Penny Esprit De Corp Award. Most recently, she and her husband received Distinguished Honoree recognition at a National Philanthropy Day event hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Western New York Chapter.

Reinhold recognizes the importance of her philanthropic work, but is unassuming about the awards. “I probably got that from Sister Jeanne as well,” she notes. “She had a Ph.D., but never used the doctor title or flaunted it. That struck me as very humble.”

An Enduring Influence

Sister Jeanne lived to be nearly 100-yearsold, and near the end of her life had lost her eyesight. Reinhold recalls she was never angry or bitter about her affliction, quietly accepting it as the will of God.

“Her courage in the face of such challenges is something I carry with me in my own life,” Reinhold says. “She was so honorable in so many ways – for her artistic talents, her intellect, her caring for others, and for me, her friendship.”

Reinhold is chair of the Joy Family Foundation, a philanthropic fund started by her father and family that supports a variety of non-profit and charitable organizations. In 2015, she received the Millicent Heller Award for the Most Distinguished Foundation.

In gratitude for the influence of Sister Jeanne, Reinhold and her husband decided to honor the esteemed teacher with the establishment of the study room at Daemen.

“My goal is to create a lasting legacy to Sister Jeanne so that her former students may recall her fondly when they visit the college, and that current students may understand her importance to the arts program at Daemen,” says Reinhold. “It is our way of ensuring she continues to shine like the diamond she was during her lifetime.”