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Shelby County gives back to those who gave

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The generosity of the Pflughaupt and Moore families will be memorialized in a living way at Shelby County High School.

By Todd Martin

Scholarship winners spanning five decades joined together Sunday at Shelby County High School Sunday to celebrate the Moore and Pflughaupt families.

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The ceremony dedicated two newly planted willow trees outside the school to the families, which have for the past four decades awarded students in Shelby County with about $500,000 in scholarships.

Starting with Moore Scholarship, funded from 1970 to 1994 by the late J. Edward Moore and Dorothy Moore, and then to the Pflughaupt Scholarship, from 1995 to this year, a top Shelby County student has been awarded a life-changing amount of money for his or her higher education.

But with the final Pflughaupt award having been handed out this year, those awards have ended.

Ernestine Jennings, the Pflughaupt Committee chair who also worked with the Moore Scholarship, reminded the crowd of about 30 to 40 people in attendance of a quote from Eugene Pflughaupt during the SCHS Senior Awards night in June, when he and his wife, Margery, were presented with their tree.

"He said a person's legacy lasts as long as the youngest person you know, and I must say I don't completely agree with that," she said. "I think the people here, the people touched and affected by these two wonderful families, will tell their children about the generosity displayed. Their legacy of goodwill will live on."

A reception for the 17 Pflughaupt Scholarship winners was held in June, but this was the first time in many years that anything had been done to represent the Moores.

Three Moore scholarship winners were on hand to share their memories, and all three touched on the fact that the award was much, much more than just money to attend college.

Wes Watson, the 1973 recipient, mentioned the Moore's "curiosity of the world" and their "moral courage" as two things that stood out.

"They were far older than me, but their curiosity of the world they lived in was amazing," he said. "And most people don't know, but I was the valedictorian of our class and gave a speech that commented on the commitment to education here.

"And while many parents and students agreed with me, the board of education did not. They quietly approached the Moores, and suggested that maybe my scholarship should be revoked. The Moores declined, and the fact that they had the moral courage to stand up for me and for free speech has stuck with me even until today."

In 1970 Joe Gilman won the very first Moore Scholarship, and he said lessons he learned from that venerable Shelby County family have stayed with him through the last 40 years.

"They had a profound effect on me," he said. "I got to know the Moores and their children and grandchildren very well. You had to keep a three-point-oh GPA to keep the scholarship then, and I thought as the first winner I needed to set the benchmark even higher for future recipients.

“I ended up graduating with a three-point-nine-seven GPA and was second in my class. I was so proud to show them my report card every time I came home."

Kathy Taylor, the 1972 winner, was the first female to earn the scholarship and now is a veterinarian at East Shelby Animal Clinic. She said the award gave her the confidence and the money to continue her education.

"That paved the way for me to have a life in a career that I still love, and I cannot repay that, ever," she said.

Travis Adams, the 2010 recipient of the Pflughaupt Scholarship, said hearing the stories of the connection and respect built over time from the winners of the Moore Scholarship excite him for this future.

"As an aspiring student with a long life ahead of me, it's such an inspiration to see the impact of the Moores and Pflughaupts on so many people," he said.

Eugene Pflughaupt told the crowd how happy he and Margery get when they hear about former winners and how well they're doing.

"Especially when they're coming back to Shelby County," he said.

Now, with both families honored at SCHS, when those students come back they'll have something to remind them of the long shadows cast over Shelby County academics.