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Supporting Future Nurses

St. Francis Foundation closes, families choose to support nursing education

Miller and Veronica Campbell and Sylvester Skoch

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2018

Miller and Veronica (Bonnie) Campbell made education a priority for their family. They both attended the University of Kentucky, and he graduated in 1950 with a degree in civil engineering and she finished her certificate in the engineering science, and management war training program in 1945.

“Mom admired people who had an education, because you could use your education for everything you did in life,” their daughter, Joyce Cunningham, said.

The couple and their four children moved around the world while Miller worked as an engineer for Goodyear and made their family’s education a priority.

“We never thought after high school that there was anything but college,” said their daughter, Mary Anspaugh.

The couple decided to establish roots in Topeka, and all four children attended or graduated from Washburn University - Mary Anspaugh, b ed ’73, Alice Marshall, m ed ’85, Mike Campbell, mba ’87, and Joyce Cunningham, who attended and graduated from the University of Kansas. After Miller retired, they started volunteering at St. Francis Health Center as a commitment to their faith. Bonnie worked with the Children’s Miracle Network, and Miller worked with community relations and served on the ethics committee.

“They saw volunteering at the hospital as a way to help someone who is helping others,” said Alice Marshall. “They thought it was a good way to help the community.”

The couple decided to leave their house to the St. Francis Health Foundation as a way to honor their commitment to the hospital. After the Foundation closed in 2017, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System gave the funds to Washburn to provide scholarships for nursing students.

“With all four of their children having gone to Washburn, I think they would be happy to know that is where the money went,” said Alice Marshall. “Education was so important to mom and dad, and Washburn is very important to the Topeka community.”

Skoch continues legacy with nursing scholarship

Sylvester Skoch, b ed ’55, believed in the power of education. A former Kansas school principal and teacher himself, he understood the power it had to change lives – not only his, but the people who eventually saved his life.

Having served in World War II and the Korean War, Skoch spent 35 years in the teaching profession instructing students at public schools as well as members of the U.S. Army.

When he passed away in 2012, half of his estate created the Sylvester A. Skoch Scholarship Fund to assist education majors and the other half went to St. Francis Health Center Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, in appreciation for the all the medical staff did for him during a heart surgery.

When the St. Francis Health Center Foundation closed in July 2017, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System gave the money to Washburn University to provide scholarships for nursing students.

Evelyn Lierz, his niece and goddaughter, said the gift from the Sisters of Charity would have been what he wanted.

“He was just the kind of guy that wanted to help someone,” she said. “He just thrived on it.”

Ichabod Washburn statue

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