More Hillsboro-area elementary education students at Eastern Illinois University will soon be receiving financial assistance, thanks to a recent increase in a scholarship endowment from the late Bertha G. Hoedebecke.
Mrs. Hoedebecke, an EIU graduate and Hillsboro native who enjoyed a long career as an elementary school teacher, believed that good teachers give young people a sound foundation for the rest of their schooling.
To benefit people preparing for teaching careers, she established the Bertha G. Hoedebecke Elementary Education Scholarship in memory of George Gewe, her older brother, in 1991.
The fund recently received an additional gift of approximately $62,500 from Mrs. Hoedebecke’s estate. Mrs. Hoedebecke passed away on April 7, 2006, at the age of 100.
From the fund, scholarships are awarded each year to elementary education majors from Montgomery County, with preference given to students from Hillsboro High School. Interested students may apply to the regional superintendent of education for Christian and Montgomery counties.
“Mrs. Hoedebecke was an educator in every sense of the word,” said Diane Jackman, dean of the EIU College of Education and Professional Studies. “During her life, she established a scholarship to help EIU elementary education students achieve their goals; through her estate she enhanced her original gift.
“Educators are special people who always think about how they can help others achieve their dreams. Mrs. Hoedebecke overcame many barriers to achieve her dreams and will be missed by her EIU family.”
Mrs. Hoedebecke graduated from Hillsboro High School and received a teaching certificate when she was 16. Because her parents thought she was too young to go away to college, she attended a local business school.
Before she turned 18, she began her career in education, teaching art and music for three years. She later taught elementary school in Oak Park for 25 years.
Mrs. Hoedebecke earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from EIU in 1940 and 1945. She lived on campus, in Pemberton Hall, for one year, but the rest of the time she lived off-campus, taking classes in the summer, at night or via correspondence course.
She also worked on a master’s degree at Northwestern University at night and in the summers until she earned it in 1945.
Mrs. Hoedebecke’s husband of nearly 50 years, Larry, passed away in December 2004 at the age of 101.
The Hoedebecke scholarship is facilitated through the EIU Foundation, which promotes volunteerism and philanthropy for the benefit of the university. Interest revenue from the Foundation’s $34.2 million endowment provides an ongoing source of funding for scholarships, grants and support for EIU programs.