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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • College receives over $1 million gift

  • Central Christian College recently received its largest-ever estate gift.
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  • Central Christian College recently received its largest-ever estate gift.
    Lela (Hudson) Honkonen, a graduate of the Central College class of 1937 and resident of Batesville, Ark., passed away in April, three months after her 100th birthday, and she bequeathed to Central Christian College an estate gift of more than $1 million.
    This gift illustrates the love that Honkonen had for her experience at her alma mater and her desire to help future Central Christian students. In 2009, Honkonen's sister, Altha Hudson, left an estate gift of more than $800,000 to Central Christian College.
    The sisters' Central experience began in 1935, during the throes of the Great Depression. They came to Central from Texas at the urging of their brother, Ursi, who had attended a year earlier after learning about Central while on a harvest crew.
    The sisters put in many hours of hard work, primarily in the kitchen, to pay their school bill. Both graduated in 1937.
    The sisters returned to Central's campus for their 50th class reunion in 1987, where they learned of the opportunities available to create endowed scholarships to help students attend Central. Later that year, they established the Hudson Scholarship together and, after Lela married, they each established their own scholarships.
    Now, current students benefit from both the Lela Honkonen Scholarship and the Altha Hudson Scholarship.
    Lela and her husband, Hugo, were both retired employees of the federal government, with Lela working 43 years in Washington, D.C., as a transportation specialist. She desired the estate to be used for tuition and books for deserving and financially challenged young students of her alma mater.
    The estate gift will help fund the President's Opportunity Grand Program, which was founded in summer 2013 and is designed to assist needy students who desire to work to help fund their education.
    “Lela valued her Central education and desired to help young people have the same opportunity,” said Hal Hoxie, president of Central Christian College. “Connecting her gift to the President's Opportunity Grant Program is a perfect fit, as Lela and her sister, Altha, worked their way through graduation at Central in the 1930s. Her gift will help support the endowment of the program, enabling it to benefit students for many years.”
    Eight students are currently part of the Presidential Opportunity Grant Program, and Central Christian is planning to expand the program to include 40 students in the fall of 2014.
    Central Christian College is actively seeking additional donors to help fund the program's endowment and, eventually, it is designed to become a self-sustaining system.
    Hoxie desires to help students graduate from college debt-free, and the President's Opportunity Grant is one of the ways to accomplish that mission.
    “We praise God for Lela's life and for the blessing that has been realized as a result of her stewardship and this generous gift to her alma mater and future generations of Central Christian students,” Hoxie said.

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