The beautiful landscape of Marigold Mall was named in remembrance of Marigold N. Saunders. After visiting campus as a guest of Adelaide Hardy, Saunders became a patron of BYU students when she bequeathed her fortune to funding scholarships at BYU and other colleges in the West.
Marigold Mall is a pedestrian mall nestled between the Harold B. Lee Library, Herald R. Clark Building, and Martin Classroom Building on the west and the Wilkinson Student Center, Harvey Fletcher Building, and Clyde Engineering Building on the east. The space has been named and maintained in honor of Marigold N. Saunders and her generous gift to Brigham Young University.
A resident of Oakland, California, Marigold N. Saunders was the wife—and, in her later years, the widow—of H.J. Saunders, a life insurance executive who had worked for companies such as New York Life Insurance and California–Western States Life Insurance. The couple had no children or heirs, but they took an interest in supporting the young. Personal friend and colleague Grant Taggart remembered them as “an inspiration” who mentored him from an eighteen-year-old salesman into a member of the California–Western board of directors.
After contemplating how to bequeath her wealth, Saunders decided to leave it to college students in need in the form of scholarships. Saunders named Taggart executor of her estate and instructed him to take whatever remained of her wealth after other bequests and taxes and donate it to universities and colleges of his choosing.
BYU was one clear choice. Saunders had visited BYU as a guest of Adelaide Hardy before Hardy’s passing in 1967. As the Provo Daily Herald related, Saunders “was tremendously impressed by what she saw and learned about the University, what it stood for, and what it was doing with young people.”
After contacting BYU administration, in May 1977 Taggart publicly announced the Saunders estate was donating $500,000 to BYU for the establishment of an endowment to fund scholarships. Dallin H. Oaks, BYU president at the time, announced that this endowment would annually finance twenty-five “Marigold N. Saunders Awards.” Each grant fully funded a student’s tuition for two semesters. In gratitude, the Board of Trustees moved to name the campus’ north-south pedestrian mall “Marigold Mall,” in Saunders’s honor, and landscape it with decorative flora, including marigolds.
Today, a commemorative plaque on the east side of the Lee Library denotes Marigold Mall. The landscape stretches as far south as Campus Drive, encompassing both the concrete sidewalks between the library and Wilkinson Center and the grassy lawns between the Clyde Building and Martin Building.
In addition to the sidewalks, benches, and lawns—perfect for resting between classes—the mall also hosts three distinctive art pieces. The class of 1916 established a sundial on the mall, giving the time during daylight hours. Since 1975 (just two years before the mall was named for Saunders), the south end has featured Windows of Heaven, a stained glass statue by sculptor Francis P. Riggs commissioned to celebrate BYU’s centennial year. And in 2002, BYU relocated First Born—a statue featuring a family holding hands—from the then-demolished Smith Family Living Center to the north end of the lawns on Marigold Mall.
Saunders’s gift continues to finance what is now known as the Marigold N. Saunders Scholarship, which fully funds each recipient’s tuition for a year, and Marigold Mall continues to express BYU’s “grateful remembrance.”