The Mary Jo Williams Charitable Trust has allocated three new grant awards to programs at Garden City Community College.
The grants, announced by GCCC Endowment Association Executive Director Jeremy Gigot, include:
The trust, based in Garden City, has provided the college with combined gifts of $1,074,417 since 1988. It carries on the legacy of a life-time Garden City resident who lived from 1921 to 1986. Her parents and grandparents were early-day supporters who helped establish the community’s leadership role in Western Kansas.
Her father died when she was six, leaving her to face the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era with her brother and mother. She attended Garden City schools, took lessons in music and dancing and graduated from Garden City High School in 1939, latter attending Garden City Junior College, now GCCC; Colorado Women’s College, Denver; and the University of Kansas.
She worked as a secretary during World War II at the Garden City base of the U.S. Army Air Corps and later with the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, and also entered the field of early television, working for a time in the Hutchinson area.
After returning to Garden City, she began work as the secretary to Dale Saffels, a candidate for Kansas governor in 1962; and for three successive superintendents of Garden City schools, Dr. Leroy Hood; Dr. Thomas F. Saffell, later GCCC president; and Dr. Horace Good. She also served many years as clerk of the board of education.
She was 64 when she died in 1986, and the trust established in her memory has worked closely with the college to carry out her wishes to benefit students and the institution. Among facilities endowed in her honor are the Mary Jo Williams CLC, Mary Jo Williams Assessment Center, Mary Jo Williams Piano Lab, and a firearms and emergency simulation center affiliated with the GCCC Department of Public Safety. Additionally, the trust provides for numerous academic scholarships each year to GCCC students, ongoing support for the learning center, and a series of annual grant awards for technology or equipment to assist college programs.