Legacy for loved ones and honoring education

Last week, we talked about scholarship funds at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation that are offered to graduating Grand Rapids High School seniors. Those scholarships focus on supporting excellence in sports and community involvement, as well as students interested in vocational training.

This week, we have a couple different types of scholarships to show you. Different, and yet some have a similar vein that runs through them. Just as the Bob Frick Memorial Scholarship celebrates the legacy of Bob Frick, a teacher from Grand Rapids High School, we begin with a memorial scholarship.

Memorial Scholarships offer a legacy where everyone can contribute

The Jennifer Koprowski Memorial Scholarship provides $1,000 support for a female Grand Rapids High School college-bound swimmer, who has shown dedication to the sport of swimming and strong leadership ability.

The Jennifer Koprowski Memorial Scholarship celebrates a fitting legacy for Jennifer’s life. She graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1988 where she was a member of the high school’s swim and track teams. She swam for the University of Hawaii and graduated in 1993. She taught physical education and coached swimming and soccer at St. Andrew's Priory in Honolulu. Jennifer was also a longtime wilderness guide for Laketrails Youth Camp at Lake-Of-The-Woods.

PHOTO: Jennifer Koprowski

The Barbara Swentkofske Memorial P.E.O. Scholarship was established in Barbara’s honor to provide a scholarship to a female high school graduate planning to attend a 4-year college or university.

Barbara grew up in Grand Rapids, and graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1954. She received the University of MN Certification in Dental Hygiene in 1957 and earned a BS in Public Health from Bemidji State University. Many remember her smiling face as a dental hygienist for Dr. Hub Tofte and Dr. Byron Rowell.

Barbara has the distinction of being both one of the first American Field Service (AFS) sisters in Grand Rapids (to a young lady from Finland), as well as being an AFS mother to the same young lady’s daughter, later on in life. She was a past President of the regional Council of Camp Fire Girls and a board member of Camp Bluewater. Barbara believed strongly in strengthening the community and was an early organizer of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Barb was an active member in the local AAUW and PEO organizations. The establishment of the Barbara Swentkofske Memorial P.E.O. Scholarship is a truly fitting legacy for this compassionate and giving woman.

Students interested in applying for the Dan Retka Memorial Scholarship must be graduating from Grand Rapids High School and plan to enroll in a four-year university or college, to study engineering, construction management or environmental science. (Due to the rigorous academics of these fields, the scholarship is only offered to applicants with at least a “B” grade point average or better.)

Dan was a regional hydrologist for northeast Minnesota, which includes the Arrowhead Region and the North Shore for the Department of Natural Resources. He worked 33 years with the DNR and was instrumental in starting the Minnesota Coastal Zone Program to insure the future of water resources for the North Shore area. It is easy to see why establishing the Dan Retka Memorial Scholarship with these criteria makes a wonderful legacy for Dan and his family.

PHOTO 1: Dan and Joe Retka

PHOTO 2: Tony and Joe Retka

Recurring scholarships offer four years of support to a recipient

The Lilah Maddy Brandon Scholarship is intended for a senior graduating from Grand Rapids High School. This scholarship pays $1,000 each year for four (4) years of school. “We receive numerous applications for this scholarship,” remarks Copeland. “The committee can have a tough time evaluating all the applications, since the applicant’s story about why they need the scholarship is so important. The Lilah Maddy Brandon Scholarship provides support every year, for four years. Because this scholarship is only offered once every four years, the final recipient should be extremely honored to be selected for this scholarship.

The Ed & Eleanore Gregerson Scholarship provides $2,500 a year, for four years (totaling $10,000) to a student graduating from Grand Rapids High School who was a member of Zion Lutheran Church. The applications are evaluated with a heavy emphasis placed on the applicant’s essay about how his or her personal faith has made an impact in their life.

Ed was born on Sept. 12, 1919 in Stokes Township near Bigfork to Peter and Marie (Benson) Gregerson. He graduated from Deer River High School in 1937 and then attended Duluth Teachers College, graduating in 1941. Ed entered the U.S. Navy where he served in World War II aboard the U.S.S. Idaho in the Pacific Theatre. On June 10, 1948, he was united in marriage to Eleanore Niemi in Crosby. Ed was a teacher with School District No. 318 from 1941 to 1957 when he became the athletic director for the school district until his retirement in 1979. He was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Ed was a longtime member of Zion Lutheran Church, past president of the Grand Rapids Rotary Club, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 2469, and a number of other professional organizations.

PHOTO: Ed and Eleanore Gregerson at Lake Inquadona (1996)

Scholarships that support specific fields of study

The Myles Reif Memorial Scholarship is available to students who are in the top 10% of their class and intend to enroll in a four-year (or more) degree program in any physical science field at any institution of higher learning. This scholarship is recurring, which means the recipient receives $1,000 each year for four years. “In the past, Myles Reif’s son, John, loved to serve on the interview committee, remarks Copeland. “Any student that got through that gauntlet was ready for the rigors of college.”

Myles Reif is a well-known name in Grand Rapids. Mr. Reif was a President of the Blandin Paper Company and gave back much to this community. His name is on the Performing Arts Center which is attached to the High School. It is only fitting that a scholarship is provided for a well-deserving graduate of the High School.

Get ready! The Herald-Review’s Academic Excellence insert is chocked full of photos of all the local scholarship recipients for this year. It will be in your July 3rd newspaper!

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