Bluefield College students will soon have access to even more financial aid, but equally important is the fact that the legacies of two local community servants will be preserved through the creation of the Dennis and Louise Thomas Leary Endowed Scholarship for BC students.
Established through the generosity of an anonymous Bluefield College donor, the Leary Scholarship is designed to support BC students pursuing degrees in Christian studies or teacher education. As the donor wished, the scholarship will also pay tribute to two individuals who dedicated their lives to the Christian ministry and education.
“Dennis and Louise Leary had no formal connection to Bluefield College during their lifetimes, but they were passionately committed to their faith and to education,” said BC’s Annette Tabor, associate vice president for advancement. “Both were concerned for the education and prosperity of southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, and this scholarship will encourage continued prosperity and growth in the region.”
Dennis Leary lived most of his life in southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. A veteran of World War II and a civil engineer, he spent the majority of his career working for the City of Beckley, West Virginia.
Responding to a need for clean water service for residents outside of the city limits of Beckley, Dennis created the Stoco Water and Development Company, which laid some of the first flexible water pipe in the United States and brought clean drinking water to Raleigh County citizens who had little to no access to it before.
“Dennis was a faithful servant to God, his country, and his community throughout his lifetime,” said Tabor. “He always had the best interest of his fellow community members in mind.”
A native of Halifax County, Virginia, Louise Thomas Leary was a longtime beloved schoolteacher in Richlands, Virginia. After her husband’s death in 1970, some 20 years after he founded his water utility service, she set aside her passion for teaching and her dedication to educating the children of southwest Virginia to become president of Stoco Water. She continued to manage her husband’s company and fulfill its mission until she sold the business decades later.
The Leary legacy of service to southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia will continue, thanks to the Leary Scholarship Fund and the students who receive the awards. Recipients of the scholarship are to be full-time Bluefield College students from Halifax, Campbell, Tazewell, or Allegheny counties in Virginia or Raleigh County in West Virginia.
Award winners must also demonstrate financial need and be majoring in teacher education or Christian studies. Recipients are eligible to receive the Leary Scholarship during all of their years of study at Bluefield College, provided they maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average.
For more information about applying for Leary Scholarship Awards or for details about how to give to the Leary Fund or create your own scholarship in honor or memory of someone, contact the Bluefield College Advancement Office by phone at 276-326-4211.