The Watkins Family Foundation, created by the estate of Vance County native Edward Tarry Watkins, has donated $25,000 to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to endow a scholarship to help underprivileged women.
The donation to VGCC is actually the first made by the newly-established, Houston, Texas-based foundation, according to Meghan Watkins Thompson, a granddaughter of Watkins.
“I recall that my grandfather would always tell me, ‘you educate the woman, you educate the family,’” Thompson said.
Among family members who remain in the Henderson area is Watkins’ nephew, George Rose Watkins, who has also endowed a scholarship through the VGCC Endowment Fund to help students and regularly plays in the college’s annual benefit golf tournament. His family’s company, Rose Oil, is also a longtime supporter of VGCC and other community organizations.
“The Watkins Family Foundation was created specifically for the education of underprivileged women,” Thompson added. “George and I appreciate Vance-Granville making Ed’s wish a reality.”
This new scholarship will be a “Presidential Scholar Award,” the college’s largest, most prestigious level of endowed scholarship.
“The Edward Tarry Watkins Memorial Presidential Scholar Award represents the lasting legacy of a generous man who never forgot his hometown and demonstrated the same dedication to service and philanthropy as other members of his extended family,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “For generations to come, his vision will empower women to obtain the higher education they need to support themselves, their families and their communities.”
Ed Watkins, or “Bitz,” as he was called by his family, was born in Henderson in 1919, the son of William Thomas and Nannie Tarry Watkins. A 1940 Davidson College graduate, he joined the Army Air Corps after college and moved from North Carolina to Texas, serving as a bombardier flight instructor and also working with Minneapolis Honeywell to couple the Norden bombsight to the B-17 autopilot. Watkins retired from active duty in 1949 as a lieutenant colonel.
He and his wife, Hazel, moved to Houston in 1951, where he worked for Merrill Lynch before founding his own brokerage and investment advisory firm, Watkins & Company, Inc.
Active in his community and a supporter of many social and charitable causes, Watkins supported the Embassy Square Foundation in its development of the Perry Memorial Library in downtown Henderson. He and a friend also helped to establish a technical school for underprivileged children in Kun-Ming, China.
After passing away in July 2006 at the age of 87, he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Henderson.
Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.