Raven Bland never met Joseph and Bertha Harry, but this Old Dominion University senior appreciates how this generous couple from her Norfolk neighborhood helps her pay for college. Raven, a history major, won a Joseph E. and Bertha White Harry Scholarship in 2013 when she started at ODU. Four years later Raven, who was Hampton Roads' first Youth Poet Laureate, is among nearly 40 students each year who are Harry Scholars. She is planning a career in government and already looking forward to the day when she can start her own scholarship fund to help other students.
Joseph Harry was a grocery buyer who lived modestly in Norfolk's Norview neighborhood with his wife Bertha, who died in 1985. Neither graduated from college. Both were active in our community -- Joseph as a Mason and Bertha with the American Red Cross and a garden club. The couple had no children of their own, but through Joseph's estate plans they have dozens of scholarship "family" like Raven. After Joseph passed away in 1991 his estate left a generous gift to the community foundation to start an endowed scholarship fund. He specified that it be for Hampton Roads students attending either ODU or Virginia Wesleyan College. The perpetual Harry Fund will forever be helping college students prepare for the future.
Dr. Lewis Martin of Winchester, Virginia likes to say that "Florence Smith saved my bacon." It was 1964, and he had just finished his first year at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The scholarship that helped him had ended and Lewis had no idea how to pay his tuition. Then he won a Florence L. Smith Scholarship from the community foundation that "picked up the cost for my last three years and set the tone for the rest of my life."
Lewis, the first in his family to go to college, went on to a rewarding career as a radiologist. In 2005 he and his wife Cheryl decided to repay his benefactor by setting up their own scholarship fund at the community foundation. It benefits students at his medical school and his and Cheryl's undergraduate alma maters. He later also arranged for a future bequest to add to the scholarship.
"I was not particularly charitable while working, raising a family and paying bills," Lewis says. What impresses him about the Smith Scholarship that started in 1952 is "after all these years and all these hundreds of doctors being educated, the scholarship still had $2 million left. I thought if I give them my money and history repeats itself, my scholarship will be helping people 50 years after I am dead."
Tommy Horvatic was a Virginia Beach student getting ready to start his senior year of high school. He was a competitive swimmer, a Boy Scout and a church alter boy. He was known for his good sense of humor, great character and picking up and selling aluminum cans to get money for dates.
When a car accident in 1986 took Tommy's life. His grief-stricken parents Tom and Rita continued collecting cans and used proceeds to fund scholarships in Tommy's name for graduates of Princess Anne High School, Tommy's alma mater. That effort continued after his dad's death until 2013 when his mom donated $100,000 to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to create the endowed Tommy Horvatic Memorial Scholarship. It is for Princess Anne students of good character involved in the community but who may not be at the top of their class.
"The impetus for moving the scholarship here was estate planning," says Anne Horvatic Christie, Tommy's sister. As a Maury High School guidance counselor she has helped many students receive foundation scholarships. "Endowing the scholarship ensured my mother's goal of making sure Tommy's scholarship would last," Anne says.
Rita Horvatic passed away in 2015 with memorial gifts coming to Tommy's Fund. For 2016-17 there are three students in college as Horvatic Scholars.
Watch a short video to learn more about Tommy and his scholarship:
Bernard Betzig Spigel (1895-1968) was a Richmond native who moved to Norfolk as a boy. He graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and served in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War I. He then came home to set up an architecture practice. Spigel was known for designing theaters as well as homes, schools and businesses. In 1983, Spigel’s daughter, Lucy Spigel Herman, established a scholarship that honored her late father and stepmother. Each year the Enid W. and Bernard B. Spigel Architectural Scholarship helps upper-level or graduate students from Virginia earn degrees in architecture, architectural history or architectural preservation.
Among the past recipients is notable Virginia Beach architect Clay Dills who received the scholarship during his final year at Virginia Tech. "The scholarship was really meaningful to me and continues to be meaningful," he says.
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