Battle Creek Teacher Still Helps Students 60 Years After Her Death
Virginia Winship was born into one of Battle Creek’s early-day families. She was a school teacher, and worked hard to help and support community organizations, and passed away in 1959. She never married and never had children, but her legacy lives on, well over a half-century later, in the form of the Winship Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
On June 10, 1961, it was announced that a brand new scholarship fund left by Miss Virginia Winship to aid local students, will top $1 million. The trust fund was expected to yield $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and as of 2021, it still is. The fund has a current value of nearly $5 million.
Winship taught for many years in the Battle Creek schools. She was very active with the Emily Andrus Home, First Congregational Church, YWCA, and many other groups and donated to many intuitions and causes. She was known to be very frugal and when she died in November of 1959, her estate was substantial. After all of her bequests were honored, there was still an estimated $637,000 remaining to be used to fulfill her wish that a scholarship trust be created.
Winship had said that the purpose of the trust would be to assist promising young men and women in securing higher education, but also to foster an independent and self-reliant spirit. With this in mind, she further stated, “I prefer that the scholarship grants not be sufficient to meet the entire educational expenses of the recipients. Furthermore, it seems to me best that the fund continues to aid the scholarship holder throughout the course of his or her higher education, provided the recipient remains qualified and deserving.”
Any student in Battle Creek, or any adjacent school district is eligible. Battle Creek Public School Information Officer Nathan Hunt says their college advisors said these are typically $2,000 scholarships, but they can vary a lot depending on a student’s needs. In 2001, 25 area students received anywhere from $800 to $3,000. In 1978, 10 students got scholarships, but 57 grants were renewed.
The fund is administered by the Trust Department at Comerica Bank, but a board of civic and business leaders. Marilyn Burtrum is the board’s current recording secretary. She said they didn’t receive nearly as many applicants for 2021, possibly due to the pandemic. She said they normally receive a couple of hundred applications for scholarships. Burtrum said that three board members usually interview the applicants each May to determine who will be awarded scholarships. She said they look for students who they think will take college seriously and see it through. In addition to the scholarships, previous grants are renewed each year, through graduate school.
As of 2021, the fund had about $4.9 million in assets. This year, 21 new students, from Battle Creek Central, Harper Creek, and Lakeview, will be awarded scholarships. The amounts vary from $1,160 to $2,450, and 52 others will get renewals on previous grants. Students from Climax-Scotts, Galesburg-Augusta, and Pennfield were also eligible, but with applications down considerably, no scholarships were awarded to students from those three schools.
2021-22 Winship Scholarship Awards
Battle Creek Central High School
Janely V. Lemus
Ka’Nijah L. Warren
Brice D. Williams
Harper Creek High School
Abbey M. Hicks
Alexis L. Rivera
Lakeview High School
Gabrielle K. Oursler
Mah Chit Suit
For more info or an application for the Winship Memorial Scholarship Foundation, visit this site at the Battle Creek Community Foundation.