The Stories of Givers

Alumni, parents and friends of JBU support the university in many ways.

By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11
6/28/2018 4:47:00 PM

Alumni, parents and friends of JBU support the university in many ways. Some pray for God's favor on JBU. Some tell others about the great JBU story. And in a capital campaign, some provide financially to support good work at JBU.

Willard and Pat Walker

Debbie Walker and Pat WalkerPat and Willard Walker were married only a few months after Pat walked into a Kansas department store looking for work. It was 1941, and Willard, who was an employee at the time, took one look at Pat and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” He did, and the two had a blessed 61 years of marriage.

Pat and Willard were raised during the Depression Era, and both were given educational and vocational opportunities by others in their community. After the Walkers began reaping the financial benefits of investing in Wal-Mart, they decided to give back by establishing the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.  Since the beginning, The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation has invested in human lives by philanthropically providing for healthcare and education.

“Many people struggle through economic situations that prevent them from receiving healthcare or education,” says the foundation’s executive director Debbie Walker. “Private philanthropy is a way to reach and impact those individuals. JBU has been a great fit for the organization.”

In addition to giving significantly to the Walker Student Center and Bill George Arena, the Walker foundation established an endowed scholarship for the Biblical Studies division. The endowment was established as part of the $10 Million Challenge and increased as part of the $20 Million Challenge.

“Education is one of the largest components in helping people grow,”  Walker says. “Many of the gifts given to JBU were given out of trust, friendship and respect for the organization.” As students in the Biblical Studies division prepare to become youth ministers, family counselors, advocacy workers, chaplains, pastors and international relief workers The Walker Foundation’s legacy will continue to spread.

John Pickle

“I’ve never made a lot of money,” says John Pickle ’61, “but because I believe in holistic education—head, heart and hand—I provide what I can towards scholarships at JBU.” Growing up near Siloam Springs, John knew all about John Brown University, and with his father working as a faculty member, the decision to attend was easy.

After graduation, he completed four years in the military, obtained a Ph.D. in entomology and spent the next thirty years involved in agricultural production, before retiring in 2003 to work as a substitute teacher. “I required a two year medical treatment that stopped the teaching, and when I got my strength back after radiation therapy, I ran for a local political position which I won and held for two years,” he says.

During that time, even while undergoing medical issues, John gave to the JBUSF when finances allowed. “I give to JBU because of the solid education they provide,” he says. “When you educate the whole person, you instill values that become part of that person. My advice to students and alumni is this: keep the foundation of head, heart and hand.”

Paul and Linda Galyean

The land had been in their family for over one hundred years, and now the state wanted to build a highway through it.  Although they were devastated to lose their home and land, Paul and Linda Galyean chose to seek God’s will.

The Galyeans used a portion of the proceeds from the land sale to set up an endowed scholarship for JBU students.  Because Paul and Linda were married while attending JBU, they understand the challenges many married students face.  In 2008, the Galyeans established the Paul and Linda Thomas Galyean Endowed Scholarship to help married JBU students, and the scholarship was matched dollar for dollar as part of the $20 Million Challenge.

When asked what led them to establish an endowed scholarship at JBU, they replied, “Our parents, Audrey and Eilene Thomas and Clifton and Darline Galyean, were our best friends and always helped us along life’s way.  As graduates of JBU we know first-hand the value of a college that provides a threefold education - Head, Heart, and Hand.  We give to JBU because we put our hope in God who richly provides for us, and we give with humility and confidence that our gift will help somebody along life’s way, and that they will someday multiply our gift by helping others at JBU.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

Sid and April Smith

What prompts people who aren’t alumni to support JBU? Most often it’s the contagious enthusiasm of seeing a family member thrive in the JBU community.

When Margo Smith began looking at colleges, she and her parents, Sid and April Smith, discovered that JBU met more than just the criteria of strong academics. “JBU has excellent academics, but it is also a Christian college that is Christian from the heart,” says April Smith. “The university is not about external rules, but genuinely expresses the love of God through servant leadership.”

Sid and April served on the Parent Council and saw first-hand the kind of strong community that surrounded their daughter. “We saw a great balance between freedom and boundaries,” April says. “There is such a healthy standard of what it means to live the Christian life.”

Eager to learn more about their granddaughter’s college, Herman and Suzanne Kanis visited the campus. Encouraged and impressed by both the community and academic strength, the Kanis’ also decided to support JBU. 

“The spiritual foundation on campus was evident,” Herman says. “As a grandparent, one of our number one goals is to see such a foundation established in our grandchildren.” 

Barbara Bragg

Student work study was a little different in 1951. For Barbara Bragg ‘55, it meant she spent fifteen hours a week either pulling laundered sheets off hot rollers, managing the switchboard, working in the library or running the film projector for a professor.

Growing up in Farmington, Ark. as an only child, Barbara went to a small high school and knew she wanted a close community experience for college as well. It only took one random family drive around campus for her to decide to attend John Brown University.

Barbara relied heavily on financial aid before graduating in 1955, which is why she now strongly supports the JBU Scholarship Fund and even established the Barbara and John Bragg Endowed Scholarship during the $10 Million Challenge.

She also supported the Cathedral Group project. Ask her why, and you’ll simply hear her say, “It needed to be finished.” Now that the three buildings are completed and covered in limestone, Barbara says that supporting the project was the right decision. For her, supporting John Brown University stems from a desire to serve God and bless others. “I am most happy when helping someone, in whatever way I can,” she says.

Mike and Peggy King

When Mike King ‘81 attended JBU, construction management was called ‘building construction’. Today, King is excited about the additional changes to the program: the new Balzer Technology Center. Now that Mike and Peggy King’s daughter attends JBU, their relationship with the university has only deepened. As a member of the JBU Board of Trustees, Mike King knew that the spiritual and academic environment on campus would fit well with his daughter.

“From a parent’s point of view, the spiritual foundation is a vital part of education,” he says. “There have been exciting changes on campus since I’ve graduated, and the Keeping Faith Campaign has provided so much growth.”

Taylor, Ryan, Caitlin, Erin, Mike and Peggy King

The Kings supported the Keeping Faith Campaign by giving to the Cathedral Group project, the Balzer Technology Center as well as setting up the Ken Schoenwald Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the King Enterprise Group Endowed Scholarship, both of which were part of the $20 Million Challenge.

“It has also been such a blessing to see the Board of Trustees totally committed to the campaign and vision of JBU. They were deeply involved through prayer, gifts and encouragement,” he says. “Taking part in this campaign has been wonderful, and Peggy and I are thrilled to still be a part of JBU.”


Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is the staff editor and writer for university communication.

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