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Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko

The center is named in honor of Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko, a native of Germany who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s before becoming a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. Utilizing her talents as a clothing designer, Ostapenko opened The Sewing Shop in Washington, D.C., the precursor to The House of Fine Fabrics, a 17-store corporation. She sold the fabric store chain in 1978 to Fabri-Center of America.

Ostapenko’s philanthropy supported many types of educational, religious, health, and community service organizations. She was introduced to Niagara University by her friend, 1951 NU alumnus Jim Keenan, and developed a friendship with the Rev. Francis X. Prior, C.M., who served as NU’s vice president for institutional advancement. Ostapenko received an honorary doctorate from Niagara in 1986. Upon her passing in 2014, a portion of her estate was designated to support Niagara University.