This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of University of Denver Magazine. Read the entire issue online.

The Naughton-Nicholson family posing for a portrait Known throughout Colorado as successful bankers and businesspeople, dedicated community members and philanthropists, the Naughtons are a DU family through and through. Three generations have earned degrees here and countless friendships and connections have sprung from their time on campus.

“I am proud of the University of Denver—in that it has been an integral part of my life, my husband’s life, my children’s life and my father’s life. That is pretty amazing,” says Ann Naughton (née Nicholson) (BA 1978). Ann’s father, Will Nicholson Jr. (MBA 1956), studied at MIT before returning to his hometown of Denver and becoming the first in the family to earn a degree from DU. And when Ann graduated from the Kent School for Girls, she followed in her father’s hopscotching footsteps. At first, she says, “DU wasn’t on my radar. I wanted to go to the East Coast. So, I went.”

Landing at a women’s college in New Hampshire, Annsoon realized that she wanted to be closer to home. “I enjoyed being on the East Coast,” she says. “But I was so homesick for Colorado. During spring break, I came home, and I said, ‘I’m transferring to the University of Denver.’” Initially thinking she would transfer out of DU after a year, Ann fell in love with her political science classes, joined the Delta Gamma sorority and the field hockey team, and by the end of her sophomore year, she knew she was going to stay.

The following year, a roommate introduced her to a fellow student named Michael Naughton (BSBA 1979) at a Friday morning fraternity breakfast club, and the two became close friends. It wasn’t long after that Mike’s older brother, Tom (BSBA 1977), would need a date for his fraternity’s fall formal.

“The phone in the hallway rang, and I picked it up. And of course, there’s this dead silence. He goes, ‘Is this Ann?’ And I answer, ‘Yeah.’ He—and he was really nervous—he says, ‘Could you do me a favor? This is Tom Naughton. Would you go to the fall formal with me?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ And that was it.” The two hit it off and, after Thanksgiving, ended up taking the same interterm course, Comparative Legislative Systems, which took them to Washington DC and New York and then to London, Paris and Amsterdam to study different forms of government. Tom graduated the following spring and moved home to Des Moines, Iowa, and the pair were engaged by October ’77 and married in July of ’78, just six weeks after Ann’s graduation.

In 1984, the Naughtons decided to return to Colorado, settling in Colorado Springs, where Tom took a job with Colorado National Bank and remained through several mergers and acquisitions, retiring as the regional president for U.S. Bank in 2019. Over the years, the Naughtons’ involvement in the Colorado Springs community grew. Ann spent nearly a decade on the school board for her children’s district, sits on the board of Pikes Peak Golf Links, which provides summertime golf lessons for kids and individuals with disabilities, and is the vice chair of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s board of trustees.

“I’m a huge believer, no city can survive without a base of volunteers. And I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with my kids. And so, it was my job to give my time back to organizations,” Ann says. “But I was very much raised to believe that giving back to your community is a very important thing.”

As closely as they embedded themselves in Colorado Springs, the Naughtons remained connected to their alma mater, hosting parties for incoming DU freshman and even cheering on the Pioneers at Colorado College home games. And when the next generation of Naughtons began applying for college, Ann says, “All four children swore they would never go the same university that their parents attended.”

But eventually, they all did: First, Sarah (Dorweiler) (MA 2009), then Rob (BSBA 2010, MBA 2011), Michael (MBA 2013) and Katherine (VandeMotter) (MA 2015).

And the DU connections don’t stop there. Members of the extended Naughton-Nicholson family have earned more than a dozen degrees from the University, including Katherine’s husband Peter VandeMotter (BSBA 2013) and his mother Kathleen Carney (BSBA 1981); Ann’s nieces Olivia Reese (BSBA 2011, MBA 2012) and Marjorie Nicholson (MSW 2023); and Tom’s brother Michael (BSBA 1979), sister Jeanne Cunningham (BA 1970) and nephew John Cunningham (BSBA 2005).

The Naughtons’ relationship with the University has deepened throughout the decades. “Tom and I, my father and my children all went to DU. It’s an integral part of my giving,” Ann says. “It’s a very important part of our lives.”