Walsh Jesuit High School was funded by a generous gift from the late Cornelius and Jane Walsh. Cornelius Walsh was born in 1864 and lived his entire life in Cuyahoga Falls, where he was a prominent industrialist and Catholic layman. When Cornelius Walsh passed away in 1932, he bequeathed his entire fortune to his wife, who continued to donate generously to the Catholic Church.
In 1943, Jane Walsh worked with her nephew, William A. Walsh, to design her will, which included a large sum of money for a Catholic high school to be built. William Walsh was partial to the Jesuits. He convinced his Aunt Jane to bequeath to the Society of Jesus her property and $100,000 for the building of an all-boys school that would be a memorial to her husband. William Walsh approached the Chicago Province of the Jesuits, but the gift lay dormant for years.
In 1959, the original offer made by the Walsh family was found during a transfer of files from the Chicago Province to the Detroit Province. At almost the same time, Fr. McGrail, Provincial of the Detroit Province, received a phone call from William Walsh who urged him to reconsider the proposal made in his Aunt Jane's will. Under William Walsh's stewardship, her gift had grown to nearly $2 million. Using the gift from Cornelius and Jane Walsh (to which the Cleveland Catholic Diocese added $1 million) 50 acres were purchased from the Conway family, with an additional 50 acres purchased later to establish where Walsh Jesuit would be built.
Jane Walsh passed away in July 1963 at age 89, about 24 months before Walsh Jesuit opened. She knew, however, that plans were under way for the school because Fr. McGrail (who would become the school’s seventh president) visited her often. Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see the completed memorial to her husband.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for Walsh Jesuit took place in 1964, and the school opened its doors to 153 freshmen on September 7, 1965. The school was dedicated in May 1966, and the first class graduated in 1969.