$100,000 Gift Creates Scholarship Endowment

December 17, 2009

$100,000 Gift Creates Scholarship Endowment

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University received $100,000 to endow a scholarship fund in honor of the late Ralph Johnson, who served as principal of Parker Mathis Elementary for 23 years.

The gift was a bequest from the will of the late Noellene Johnson Moore, a 1935 graduate of Georgia State Womans College. Married to Daniel Moore, math and physics professor at Emory at Oxford in Oxford, Ga., Moore enjoyed a long career as a high school guidance counselor and was associated with various educational societies. Johnson, her brother, also spent his career in schools, serving first as a teacher and eventually as principal.

Moore shared with Johnson a passion for education, which led her -- along with sisters Louise J. Westbrook, Nettie J. Hult and Nellie J. Spinks -- to establish the scholarship in memory of their only brother, who died in 1991. The recent bequest endows the Ralph B. Johnson Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to students studying education or school counseling, to ensure continuous support for students into the future.

“We are so appreciative of Mrs. Moore for honoring her brother with an estate gift to Valdosta State University,” said President Patrick J. Schloss. “The students who receive the Ralph B. Johnson Scholarship will carry with them a very special legacy.”

The VSU Foundation manages many funds, such as the Ralph B. Johnson Scholarship Fund, that support the educational pursuits of VSU students. Last year, the foundation awarded approximately $377,000 in scholarships, which financed tuition and educational costs for 342 deserving young men and women.

"As a school counselor, Moore felt a true compassion for students and strongly desired her legacy to support those studying to impact the lives of future students through school counseling," said Sandra Fletcher, director of Planned Giving and Major Gifts. "It is because of her generosity and the benevolence of many others that we are able to make a significant financial impact in the lives of VSU students."

Ralph Johnson
Johnson spent his early school days immersed in music. A high-stepper in the third Valdosta High School Drum and Bugle Corps, he and fellow corps members donned homemade uniforms and carried second-hand instruments to practice after school each day. They quickly improved and became an integral part of the local athletic atmosphere.

Upon graduating from "Dosta High" in 1939, the talented musician, who could play almost any instrument, became a drum major for the University of Georgia. In 1942, he traded his baton for a rifle and leading role with the band to be a staff sergeant for the 83rd infantry division in the European Theatre of Operation.

With a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, Combat Infantry Badge and Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster, Johnson ended his highly decorated military career because of a combat injury and chose to return to the University of Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in education and a master's degree from the School of Administration.

Johnson began his post-military career in education as a teacher at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga. before returning to South Georgia to serve as a public school teacher in Thomasville and Hahira. He entered school administration when he bcame principal of Naylor School and retired after 23 years of service as principal of Parker Mathis Elementary School.