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Donor touched by letters from scholarship recipients


Endowed scholarship recipients write letters of thanks to the donors responsible for their scholarship, and in several cases, they cross paths at the annual scholarship dinner, held this year on Oct. 30. The late Ruth Atkinson, not pictured, kept every one of the letters she received over the years. Photo by Katie Bell.

Each year, the MU College of Engineering invites alumni and friends who have endowed scholarships to join the college for its annual scholarship dinner. Students whose scholarship sponsors accept invitations to the celebration also are invited to attend.

Scholarship recipients already have been in touch with their donors to introduce themselves, as each is required to write a letter to their scholarship sponsor. The dinner gives donors a chance to personally get to know the students who are benefitting from their thoughtful and generous sponsorship of scholarships. And attending student recipients have the opportunity to rub shoulders with alumni and friends whose education and life experiences have inspired them to help those students following in their footsteps. It is a brush with philanthropy intended to leave a lasting impression on students.

In 1995, Ruth Atkinson, a 1940 graduate of the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, endowed the Donald B. Atkinson Scholarship Fund in memory of her late husband. Donald attended MU Engineering from 1936 to 1941 and was co-founder of Electro Motion Refrigeration. He retired in 1982 after serving as company president for 25 years. He died in 1992. The scholarship agreement designates recipients should be electrical engineering students.

This year, Ruth’s invitation to the Scholarship Dinner went to her nephew, Jeff Moe, who emailed the college’s advancement office to let them know that Ruth had passed away in September.

“She was a very special lady and was quite supportive of education,” wrote Moe.

“Going through her papers, I found that she kept every one of the letters she received from scholarship recipients over the years,” he added.

Moe said his aunt and uncle had no children but highly valued student success.

“She helped my kids and others in our family reach their goals. But she didn’t talk about it,” Moe said. “Both she and my uncle were old-fashioned people, and I know getting those letters meant a lot to her.”

In the case of Ruth Atkinson, student responses to philanthropy made an impression on the donor.

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