LAWRENCE — University of Kansas officials are mourning the death of alumnus Madison “Al” Self, of Hinsdale, Ill. He died Sunday, Jan. 13, in Hinsdale at the age of 91. A memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence.
Self and his wife, Lila, are among KU’s most generous donors. The Selfs’ lifetime giving to KU totals more than $44 million. Their generosity created the Madison A. and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship, the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, the Mossberg Pharmacy Professorship and the Society of Self Fellows.
Both native Kansans, Al and Lila met as KU students and married in 1943, the year that Al earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. In 2000, Al Self was honored with the School of Engineering’s Distinguished Engineering Service Award. The university awarded him a Distinguished Service Citation in 1997. In 2010, he was recognized as a Life Trustee of KU Endowment.
In 1947, the Selfs acquired Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Ill. Self used his technical and business skills to guide the firm from a three-person operation to an international producer of polymers and polymer coatings for use on plastics. When they sold the company 37 years later, it had five U.S. manufacturing sites and operations in Japan and England. Al later served as chairman and CEO of Tioga International. At the time of his death, he was president of Allen Financial LLC.
Al Self spent most of his working years living in the Chicago area; he and Lila had lived in Hinsdale since 1966. He was preceded in death by his son, Murray Alan Self. Survivors include his wife, Lila Self; a daughter-in-law, Anne Self; and grandsons, Milo and Aran Self.
KU officials issued the following statements:
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little: “Al Self was a visionary and true friend of the University of Kansas. Together with Lila, he changed the lives of countless students. Thanks to their generosity, those students have become leaders and are helping people around the world, further extending the Selfs’ legacy of generosity.”
Howard Mossberg, dean emeritus of the School of Pharmacy and vice chancellor emeritus, Research and Graduate Studies: "Mr. Self, along with Lila Self, have been one of the most thoughtful benefactors to the University of Kansas over the last 25 years. It was my privilege to work with them in regard to the Graduate Self Fellowship Program, and in establishing other areas of support for KU. The legacy of the Selfs’ giving to KU places them among KU’s most thoughtful and generous donors.”
Stan Rolfe, interim dean of KU School of Engineering: “Al Self’s vision of creating the Al and Lila Self Undergraduate Leadership Scholarships was superb. In fact, their scholarships are among the most prestigious of any at KU. Since they created these scholarships, hundreds of students have benefited from their vision and generosity. These students have gone on to become true leaders in their professions. Al and Lila Self’s legacy to the School of Engineering will benefit students as long as there is a University of Kansas.”
Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment: “Al Self was a KU alumnus who recognized the university’s positive influence on his life’s successes, and for that, he demonstrated an extraordinary affection for the University of Kansas. The philanthropic plans that he and Lila developed during his lifetime will forever have a powerful and positive impact on the educational experiences of KU students.”