Preserving a Loved One’s Memory

When Joe Scherpf’s wife, Joy, passed away, friends planted trees and dedicated plaques in her memory. But Scherpf worried that as time went on, only he and his daughters would remember who Joy was.

“My wife was a wonderful person,” Scherpf said. “She loved the University of Kentucky.”

In Joy’s memory, Scherpf established the Joy Walters Scherpf Memorial Scholarship to benefit a student from Pineville High School in Pineville, Kentucky. After graduating from Pineville in 1963, Joy experienced many starts and stops in her pursuit of higher education due to financial constraints. The scholarship Scherpf established alleviates the obstacles Joy had to overcome—it covers tuition, room and board for students who are passionate about attending UK and demonstrate financial need in order to do so.

By applying additional Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money and scholarships for UK students who have completed the Governor’s Scholars Program, the Joy Walters Scherpf Memorial Scholarship now funds four students each academic year. Scherpf (B.A. ’64) came to UK from North Bergen, New Jersey, in 1961 to study accounting. He attended graduate school at Columbia University, then in 1966, took a job in Kentucky with Haskins & Sells in Louisville. The firm assigned him to audit the University of Kentucky. There, he met Joy Walters, who worked as an administrative assistant at the hospital. Company policy prohibited auditors from dating employees where they were working. So, when Scherpf was rotated onto another assignment, he called Joy and asked her out on a date. They married three years later.

Since establishing the scholarship in 1994, Scherpf has received many thank-you notes, which he deeply appreciates. Over the years, students have also found unique ways to express their gratitude. One of those students was Jordan Hampton (B.S. ’15), who mailed Scherpf a stole that he’d worn during commencement. Scherpf had it framed and mounted in his study.

“It was a way to say thank you,” Hampton said. “A way to say, ‘You made this possible.’”

Inspiring the Next Generation of Wildcats

Gary Moore (B.S. ’79) grew up dreaming of attending UK and studying engineering. As a boy, he was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s message to Congress that the U.S. commit itself to landing on the moon and returning safely before the end of the decade. But as a first-generation college student living in Butler County, Moore knew his opportunities in higher education were limited. He wanted to combine his math and science skills with community service to improve a community’s quality of life and protect the environment through his designs and efforts. Moore didn’t receive any scholarships to attend UK, and worked summer jobs to help pay for college. He’s forever grateful to his parents, who used funds from their cattle farm and made financial sacrifices to support his academic goals.

In 2011, Moore created the Moore-Meredith Scholarship, which honors his parents, Milton and Ollie. The scholarship benefits Butler County students who are volunteers in the community, a criterion of the scholarship that Moore believes is critical. In 2019, Moore also created the Gary T. Moore Academic Scholarship to benefit Butler County students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degrees in the College of Engineering or the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“I want to make these students’ lives better and give them an opportunity to follow their dreams like I was given,” Moore said.

“I want to make these students’ lives better and give them an opportunity to follow their dreams like I was given,” Moore said. “Hopefully, some of them will return to Butler County so they can help spark economic development and improve the area.”

BreAnna Whittinghill, a senior biochemistry major, has benefited from both of Moore’s scholarships. Like Moore, she is a first-generation college student with a passion for service. She works as a patient transporter at UK Chandler Hospital and a community COVID-19 tester with Wild Health. She hopes her success at UK will set an example for high school students from Butler County who dream of attending UK. She’s also been helping her nephew navigate the college application process. “I hope that as he continues high school, he will be able to become familiar with UK's campus,” Whittinghill said.

“I want to make these students’ lives better and give them an opportunity to follow their dreams like I was given,” Moore said.

“I hope that my success at UK can show others how important it is to look at university options, regardless of vicinity to Butler County.”

A country boy from Butler County, Moore admits he never thought his life would turn out the way it has. “I am so blessed to have had this success and to be able to give back in the way that I have,” Moore said.

Why Scholarships Matter

Kirsten Turner, vice president for student success at UK, recognizes donors hold a shared motivation to support student excellence and reduce financial barriers toward higher education.

“For many donors, supporting the next generation of leaders who share similar experiences as them is why they give,” Turner said. “Although separated by time, these donors understand many of the life experiences of the students who will receive the scholarships they make possible and want to lift up those individual students and their communities.”

Turner believes strongly that scholarships like the ones Scherpf and Moore established help recruit talented students from across the state and country and retain exemplary current students by helping them overcome unique financial barriers to obtaining a degree. They also provide the university with significant resources dedicated toward bolstering student success.