Endowed scholarship unites couple's passions

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Endowed scholarship unites couple's passions

Northwestern Foundation Release

March 4, 2010

 Sue and Kenneth Fellers with Skeeter Bird
Alumni Kenneth, right, and Sue Fellers, center, enjoy a campus tour by Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation CEO Skeeter Bird, left.  The Fellers toured recent Northwestern renovations as they finalized plans for the Kenneth and Sue Fellers Family Scholarship.
            Sue (Hildreth) Fellers sat at the piano in a Cherokee nursing home, pressing the keys to bring memories and enjoyment to the residents in the form of hymns and ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s tunes.  What started as a room with only two sleeping ladies swelled to a roomful as Sue’s piano playing attracted others.  Soon, she noticed many in the room singing along, and Sue thought to herself, “Who will do this if we don’t have musicians.  It’s just not the same as pushing a button.” 

With plans to provide for students at Northwestern Oklahoma State University already in development, the choice of who would benefit from Kenneth and Sue Fellers’ gift became clear.  The Kenneth and Sue Fellers Family Scholarship would be endowed for math, physical science or biological science students and for music students in alternating years.

“Ken and Sue Fellers are a delightful couple,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said.  “I am so pleased that they have chosen to honor their time spent at Northwestern with a scholarship that will help countless students in the future.”

Northwestern united the Fellers, who married in 1963, and the scholarship unites the couple’s passions.  For Kenneth, a ’63 math and physics graduate, the scholarship will aid students finding solutions and curing ailments.  Sue, a ’64 vocal and piano graduate, wished to offer students the opportunity to share in her joy of music and, in return, share that joy with others.  Both aspirations provide for the future of northwest Oklahoma.

Kenneth, who taught freshman math at Northwestern Sue’s senior year, now farms in Byron, using his math skills in his role on the Farmers Exchange Bank board.  In 2003, he earned the honor of Farm Bureau Oklahoma Farmer of the Year. 

Sue, who grew up in Mooreland, taught music at Burlington for three years, where her mixed chorus drew participation from all but two of the school’s students.   When she returned home to raise their two children, she continued to teach private lessons and has remained active in music at the First Baptist Church of Cherokee.

The Fellers’ Northwestern educations have played key roles in their lives; however, the couple gained more than just knowledge in their individual fields of study at Northwestern.  For Kenneth, who grew up in Byron, learning how to make decisions and interact with people was just as valuable.

“The main thing from my education that has helped me is it teaches you to reason, especially math,” Kenneth said.  “I think that is what has helped me more than anything.  I think that is the benefit of my education—learning how to reason and think and how to get along with people. “

Sue acquired an appreciation for hard work and understands the value of a scholarship, having benefitted from the generosity of donors while at Northwestern.  She remembers the extra expenses of majoring in music—the lessons, the sheet music, the practice room rental fees.

“But for the support of others, I wouldn’t have made it,” she said. 

Kenneth received scholarships, too, and still remembers what he learned from his family. 

“One thing I was taught at home was it’s an honor and an opportunity for you to go to school,” Kenneth said.  “You take advantage of it.”

Receiving scholarships made a difference in the Fellers’ college experiences, and they are determined to make a difference for today’s students.  Pleased to see Northwestern on the rise and with even higher hopes for the university’s future, the Fellers recalled their time at Northwestern as the best days of their lives.

“There are people who cared and helped us get started, and we want to pass it on,” Kenneth said.  “I’d just like kids to have the opportunity to reach their goals.”

Full-time continuing students are eligible for The Kenneth and Sue Fellers Family Scholarship with preference given to those from northwest Oklahoma who demonstrate financial need.  Recommendations from the respective departments will be considered in the selection process, and the scholarship may be applied toward university-related expenses, such as tuition, fees, room, board and books.

The Fellers know there are a number of worthy students facing difficulties.  They also know scholarships can help.

“We want to help kids that want to help themselves,” Sue said.

For more information about contributing to scholarships at Northwestern, contact Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation CEO, at aebird@nwosu.edu or 580-327-8599.