Eleven years after her father died, Kimberly Boatwright Shirley (’85) will be remembering his legacy as she celebrates Fathers’ Day with her husband and their twins who are rising juniors at Wake Forest.
Kim Shirley has carried on her father’s belief in education through the John W. Boatwright Scholarship at Wake Forest. She and her mother, Jean Boatwright, established the scholarship in 2000 shortly after her father’s death.
“The scholarship remains a way to honor my father in the way he would have most appreciated,” she said. “He put a high premium on education and made incredible personal sacrifices for his own education. He felt so strongly that education was the key to making a difference in our community and our world. Wake Forest’s goals and philosophies aligned with his, so the scholarship is a way to honor him at the same time I give back to a university that I love.”
Kim Shirley, a member of the Wake Forest Alumni Council, and her husband, Graham, live in Raleigh, N.C. Their daughter Sydney is majoring in psychology at Wake Forest, and son Jeff is majoring in finance and history.
The Boatwright scholarship is awarded to undergraduates who have demonstrated leadership ability. “I greatly enjoy meeting the recipients and, if they are interested, share stories about dad. I love talking about him,” Kim said. “Several have been thoughtful to send me letters after they graduate telling me what they are doing, that is very special.”
Kim had a special bond with her father, who was 60-years-old when she was born. He was worried that he would not live to pay her way through college, so he set up a college fund for her, she said. But he lived until he was 96, long enough to pay her way through college, see her graduate, get married and have twins.
She never had to use her college fund, so after his death, she used that money — along with a gift from her mother and some matching funds from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation — to establish the scholarship in his memory. She later established another scholarship, the Jean Boatwright Scholarship, in her mother’s name, that is awarded to undergraduates based on academic merit and a strong record of community service.
Her father greatly valued education, Kim said. He left home at 13 to work his way through high school and college. He graduated from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and later earned a master’s degree in economics from American University and a doctorate in economics from Northwestern University. He was an economist with Standard Oil Company of Indiana for more than 28 years before retiring as its chief economist.
“Father’s Day is a nice day to reflect on how lucky I was to have him for a father and for as long as I did – considering that he was 60 when I was born, that he lived until he was 96 was a gift beyond anything I could have hoped for,” she said.
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