Johnston Estate Provides Substantial Scholarship Assistance to Wesleyan

For over 40 years, the late Alaire Geraldine "Geri" Ice Johnston '37 and her late husband, Col. Henry "Hank" R. Johnston from Arlington, Virginia, supported West Virginia Wesleyan through financial contributions and special relationships with members of the campus community.

Their devotion culminated recently, when the College received a bequest gift approaching $1.2 million from Mrs. Johnston's estate for the support of scholarships—particularly the assistance of academically talented, financially needy students from West Virginia.

James Owrey '02, director of planned giving, noted that "in private higher education, there are gifts which benefit annual operations. Then, there are gifts which truly enable us to transform the future for our students. This measure of philanthropy by Geri and Hank Johnston will long support young scholars at West Virginia Wesleyan. We are humbled by this wonderful provision for deserving West Virginia students and touched by the warm legacy left by the Johnstons."

Born in 1916 in Salem, Geri spent most of her formative years in Harrison County and Marion County. While a student at Wesleyan, Geri reveled in the experience and often remarked of the "green hills of home." She pursued three areas of study—English, history, and education, and also maintained a special interest in the arts.

Hank hailed from Marion County, claiming Mannington as his birthplace. He attended Fairmont State Teachers College, and shortly after his college graduation, the two were married. Hank joined the United States Air Force, ultimately becoming a colonel. During his tenure of service, he traveled extensively to Europe and the Far East, including China and Vietnam. Even in retirement, Geri and Hank were ardent travelers, both in the States and abroad. Although they loved young people, ironically, the Johnstons never had children of their own.

While the Johnstons' bequest gift signified a commitment to West Virginia students, the husband-and-wife pair also took a vested interest in international students matriculating at Wesleyan. During the 1990s, Geri and Hank graciously supported the Johnston-Ice-Locher Scholarship Fund, to the end of attracting and retaining talented foreign students to Wesleyan, including a Vietnamese student, Emilie Hoang Roberts '01 now of Washington, DC.

Recognizing the significance of the gift, college officials are planning for ongoing and perpetual administration of the scholarship funds. "We are truly grateful for this tremendous gift," remarked President Pamela Balch '71. This scholarship endowment will provide financial access to many future West Virginia students."