CANTON, Mo. -- Culver-Stockton College has received a $2.5 million bequest from the estate of a former student and his wife, making it the largest gift from an individual in the college's history.
The donation will be used to bolster the Arthur E., Marilyn J. and Kathryn E. Hendren Endowed Scholarship for student-athletes who play football or basketball at C-SC.
The scholarship fund was established in 1993 by Arthur E. "Art" Hendren, an outstanding athlete who graduated from C-SC in 1942 and was later inducted into the college's Hall of Fame for football and basketball. Hendren died in 2010 at age 90 after accomplished careers in the military and in engineering.
"Art Hendren knew the value of an education from an early age and wanted to make sure other athletes had the opportunity to attend college like he did," said a news release issued by the college.
Since the scholarship fund was launched in 1993, 23 students have benefited. College officials say the bequest will allow many more students to be helped in the future.
C-SC President Kelly Thompson said Culver-Stockton was honored to receive the $2.5 million gift from the estate of Hendren and his second wife, Kathryn E. Hendren, who died in May.
"The Hendrens' legacy will continue to live on and support even more of our students of promise, like Art Hendren, who are dedicated and driven to be successful," Thompson said. "The college is very grateful for this transformational gift in support of our student-athletes."
The scholarship fund also bears the name of Hendren's first wife, Marilyn Jean Wilson Hendren, a 1943 graduate of C-SC. She and Hendren were married for 55 years before she died in 1999. In 2002, Hendren married the former Kathryn Carson Jacobs, who worked for 62 years at Palmyra State Bank, including 19 years as president. She died May 22, 2016, at age 95, triggering the release of the bequest to C-SC.
"She had such generosity in her heart and belief in what we're doing at the college," Thompson said.
Arthur Hendren was born in Volin, S.D., in 1919. After his father died in a farming accident when he was 4, he moved with his family to Clarinda, Iowa, where he became a standout high school athlete in football, basketball and track.
Hendren's athletic ability earned him a scholarship to Culver-Stockton, where he lettered four years in football, three years in basketball and three years in track. He was named multiple times to all-conference teams in football and basketball.
According to Hendren's obituary in The Quincy Herald-Whig, he was unable to play basketball his senior year because of a broken leg suffered during the football season. He was later invited to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles football team but declined because of the leg injury and World War II.
After graduating in 1942, Hendren taught physical education at C-SC for a year and was an assistant coach for football and basketball. He then served in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945. After another short stint of teaching and coaching, he joined the U.S. Air Force and initially was a navigator and bombardier.
According to his obituary, Hendren became test director and chief of test operations for Minuteman Missile Research and Development at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California from 1964 to 1968. He then was chief of the Minuteman Test Division at Cape Canaveral, Fla., from 1968 to 1971.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1974 as a lieutenant colonel, Hendren earned a master's degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He later became a field engineer for the Martin-Marietta Corp. in California, where he worked on the space shuttle program until he retired in 1984.
News of the Hendren family's $2.5 million bequest comes just seven weeks after the college received a $1 million gift toward the construction of a new residence hall and a $500,000 donation to the college's endowment fund for scholarships.
"To have such momentum at this time in the life of the college is just so darned exciting," Thompson said.