Helping Students Like UsJanet (Shackleton) ’63 and Virgil Leatherman BA ’66 have been faithful donors of Anderson University since the 1980s. Because of their love for the university and their experience as students who struggled financially, the Leathermans recently created an endowed scholarship for students just like them.
“Education is extremely important to us,” said Virgil. “Our parents were not very wealthy. In high school, I worked 35-plus hours a week and maintained a low B or C average. I went to Anderson with $700 in my pocket. It gave me a chance to expand my horizons a bit and gave me an understanding of just how important education is. Now that we’re able, we want to provide a few dollars to students who are in the same boat we were.”
For the Leathermans, Anderson University, the Church of God, and giving of their own resources are long family traditions. Both came from families that were active in the Church of God, and they estimate that more than 50 relatives have also attended AU.
“I remember quartets from Anderson who came to perform at my church in Cornell, Wisc.,” said Janet. “It made an impression on me. I had three uncles go to Anderson, and they all were pastors across the country for many years. My sister went there a couple years before I did. We have a long history of aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews who went attended Anderson.”
In fact, Virgil’s great grandfather helped start a Church of God congregation in his hometown after hearing the late D.S. Warner speak at a revival.
“I’ve had many cousins and family attend college at Anderson,” said Virgil. “When I got into high school, it just seemed natural that’s where I wanted to go. Anderson was the church college in Indiana, and I lived only two hours away. I decided that’s where I would go whether I could afford it or not.”
Besides meeting each other during their years at AU, Virgil was involved in Amici men’s social club and intramurals, and Janet sang in the AU choir.
“One of the richest parts of college was the chapel speakers,” said Virgil. “We had people who had been in countries around the world who would come and speak to chapel. I had a lot of good professors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of all the other individuals on campus. My first year, Jim Edwards was in a dorm room about five or six rooms away.”
Growing up in Wisconsin, Janet lived 12 hours from home during college and only went home at Christmas. She enjoyed living in the dorm and kept busy with music.
“I went on a choir spring tour one year, and that has a lot of memories,” she said. “I was in the Park Place Church choir for another semester. That’s where I met Virgil when we started dating our sophomore year. It was a really wonderful time.”
Since graduation, Virgil worked as a teacher for four years and a school administrator for 35 years. Janet stayed home to raise children in the early years and worked in accounting for 20 years. For the last 15 years, Janet has volunteered at church, planning worship services. Now both enjoy retirement at their home near Grand Rapids.
All three of their children also graduated from AU. Scott graduated in 1990 and now works in accounting. Lori graduated in 1992 and works as a social worker. Julie graduated in 1996 in elementary education.
“We got married as a result of meeting each other at AU and that has set the course for or lives,” said Virgil. “If for no other reason than for our marriage, we’re very appreciative of AU. But there are many, many other good things.”
This past fall during a conversation with an AU Teletouch phonathon caller, Virgil and Janet indicated their desire to establish an endowment. They later met with former classmate and current university development officer H.L. Baker to make this a reality.
The Janet and Virgil Leatherman Endowed Scholarship Fund is the latest way the couple has shown their appreciation. Recipients for the scholarship will be from Church of God congregations in Wisconsin and Michigan (where Janet and Virgil grew up) who have demonstrated financial need and are in good academic standing. It will available for to students in the 2010-2011 school year.
- Rachel Johnson, Excerpt from 2008 Donor Report