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Nov. 21, 2023

Couple expresses gratitude for Northwest education through gift to Martindale Hall project

A former Bearcat student-athlete and his wife – a Nodaway County native and also a Northwest Missouri State University alumna – are the latest “health champions” joining a growing list of donors and friends who are supporting a renovation to modernize Martindale Hall.

Angelo and Paula Savaiano are pictured on Northwest's Kissing Bridge while visiting the campus in 2022 for their 50th-year reunion. (Submitted photo)

Angelo and Paula Savaiano are pictured on Northwest's Kissing Bridge while visiting the campus in 2022 for their 50th-year reunion. (Submitted photo)

Angelo and Paula Moyer Savaiano have remained connected with the University since completing their degrees and continue to give toward areas of need at the institution as a way of showing their gratitude for Northwest.

“We love supporting the football, basketball and the alumni events,” Paula said. “We have a lot of loyal Bearcat friends who live closer to Maryville and also attended Northwest, and we like to continue to keep up those relationships.”

Northwest completed a $1.3 million renovation of Martindale Hall’s third floor, a 4,260-square-foot section, last spring that includes academic laboratory spaces to support nursing, human services and school counseling programs as well as faculty offices.

However, the third-floor renovation of Martindale Hall was just the first phase of long-term plans to update the entire building. The Missouri General Assembly approved $8.5 million, and Northwest is raising funds to match the state grant and fund the $17 million project total by December 2024.

When complete, the reimagined space will be home to a diverse portfolio of bachelor’s degree programs related to nutrition, nursing, recreation, applied health sciences, physical education, psychology and human services.

To commemorate the Savaianos’ generosity, a psychology lab will be named in their honor and provide students with new opportunities to engage in research projects related to cognition, learning and biological factors connected to psychological functioning.

”The Martindale Hall renovation will not only change the face of campus, but it will also provide opportunities for our health and wellness students to get ahead of their peers,” said Jana Hanson, a senior major gift officer who facilitated the couple’s gift to the Northwest Foundation. “We are thrilled that Angelo and Paula could see how important these changes are for our students and Northwest.”

Paula grew up in Maryville and attended the University’s Horace Mann Laboratory School through eighth grade, so Northwest was a natural location for her to pursue her college degrees. She is the daughter of 1949 Northwest alumni Paul and Norma Jean Bahl Moyer; her siblings Jerry Moyer, who earned degrees in 1976 and 1978, Dian Moyer Blankenship and Linda Moyer March attended Horace Mann and Northwest also.

Paula earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1972 and was active in the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. She also acquired a graduate assistantship at Horace Mann with Kathryn McKee and completed a master’s degree from Northwest in elementary education in 1973.

Whereas Paula’s path to Northwest spanned a few blocks, Angelo’s was longer with some turns. A Chicago native, Angelo was attending a community college and playing baseball in the city when a friend who was attending Northwest convinced Angelo to join him.

Reflecting on that decision now, Angelo says his years at Northwest were a turning point in his life that helped him grow academically and socially.

“When I got to Northwest, it was so friendly and open,” Angelo said. “The atmosphere was completely different than coming from a big city. It was quite an adjustment, coming from Chicago to Maryville.”

Angelo was a member of the Bearcat baseball team and Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and earned his bachelor’s degree in health education in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree at Northwest in secondary school administration in 1974.

“It helped me in my career and helped me in my life,” he said. “I can’t say enough about what it did for my personality and my confidence.”

The couple also holds fond memories of Martindale Hall, where generations of Northwest students and Maryville residents learned to swim when the building’s lower level housed an indoor pool.

“I was in the grade school at Horace Mann, and swimming lessons were included in our physical education curriculum,” Paula remembered. “We just walked down the sidewalk and were right there at the pool. We were taught by Northwest physical education majors. By the time we finished eighth grade, we had completed our junior lifesaving requirements and had even learned synchronized swimming.”

Angelo learned to swim in the building as a Northwest student.

“We had to take that class to graduate, especially with a degree in health education and physical education,” he said. “It was like the Olympics. Everybody in the place was cheering for me. I had classes in Martindale in anatomy and physiology and also in health, but the thing I remember most is learning how to swim.”

Paula and Angelo met during their senior years at Northwest and then began their careers in education. After teaching preschool and kindergarten at Horace Mann for a year, Paula taught kindergarten in Maitland, Missouri, before the couple started their family. Angelo, meanwhile, taught elementary physical education in the West Nodaway R-I School District and later was a principal in Montrose, Missouri.

In 1976, however, Angelo decided to follow the path of his father and entered the trucking business with Roadway Express. He stayed with the company, which later was acquired by Yellow Corporation, until retiring in 2008 as vice president of corporate accounts. In recent years, Angelo has worked as a sales consultant.

Angelo’s career took the Savaiano family to homes across the country, and Paula and Angelo reside today in LeClaire, Iowa. They raised three daughters, Angie, Staci and Tammy, and have eight grandchildren.

Additionally, Paula has authored three children’s books based on silly experiences with her mother – “My Gramma and Her Pogo Stick,” “My Gramma Has Ants in Her Pants” and “My Gramma Takes the Cake.”

The Northwest Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, develops and stewards philanthropic resources for the benefit of Northwest Missouri State University and its students. It is governed by a volunteer board and staffed by members of Northwest’s Office of University Advancement.

To make a gift to support Northwest, including Martindale Hall, contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248 or visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215