A scholarship boost: Greene County couple provides for education of future farmers.
But that didn't prevent them from sending kids to college.
Vestal West, who died in May 1991, became aware of the Greene County Scholarship Fund and its work in funding the higher education of area students by reading an article in the Paragould Daily Press.
The article inspired her to make a request in her will -- the establishment of the M.A. "Mack" West Scholarship Fund as part of the GCSF.
Scholarships provided by the fund will honor the memory of "Mack" West, who died in 1987 at age 90. The Wests, who were married for more than 40 years, operated West-Nash Motors, an International Harvester farm equipment dealership in Greene County.
Almost $180,000 has gone to the Arkansas Community Foundation, a Little Rock-based, non-profit organization that administers the GCSF.
Donis Hamilton, the Wests' attorney, says once taxes are paid on the estate, the fund could reach $500,000.
Other organizations that will benefit from the estate include the Greene County Humane Society, the Children's Homes of Paragould, Arkansas Methodist Hospital at Paragould, the Arkansas Nature Conservancy and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital at Memphis, Tenn.
"They lived there all of their lives," Hamilton says of the couple's devotion to Greene County.
The scholarship fund will aid students who plan to pursue a career in agriculture or a related field, Hamilton says.
The scholarships are available to students of technical or trade schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities and graduate schools.
"Both my late husband and I were acutely aware of the need for our farmers to be better educated in this day of rapid technological advancements," Vestal West wrote in her will.
She said her husband was "appreciative of the many loyal farm customers from Greene County."
Mack West was known in Greene County for his generosity and his business sense. A master mechanic, West held several patents on machinery, including one he sold to International Harvester.
West served as a state senator from 1957 to 1961 and as chairman of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Aside from running his equipment dealership, West's interests included aviation (from owning his own airplane to running the county's first airport) and oil exploration. According to Hamilton, West drilled Greene County's first and only oil well, located near the Coffman community.
The GCSF is one of about 170 funds with assets of $9 million that the Arkansas Community Foundation manages. The ACF, founded 16 years ago, carries out the philanthropic requests of various donors and provides public information on the importance of philanthropy.
The GCSF was established in 1988. Thirty-three students were awarded scholarships totaling $8,500 that year. This year, 150 Greene County high school seniors were awarded 183 scholarships totaling $55,000.