Degnan wants to be remembered as a patron of the arts and education, which she calls "certainly one of the most important things in life."
Her gift to the university is free of any stipulations. She also plans to leave a substantial, but undisclosed, amount from her estate to Crystal City High School, from which she graduated in 1943.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Degnan's parents took her to the Municipal Opera in Forest Park at just 3 years old. The next day, she picked out the tunes she had heard, using one finger on a neighbor's piano. She later studied with Rudolph Ganz, who once conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and at the University of Missouri with Elsworth McLoud.
She occasionally still plays recitals and practices three to four hours everyday on the nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano at her home in Arizona, according to the Post-Dispatch. The piano will be donated to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra as part of her estate, she said.