Scholarship strikes gold

By on May 27, 2015

In 50th year, Hibshman fund has given EHS students more than $23 million

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Ephrata National Bank President Aaron Groff was the final presenter at last Wednesday’s Awards Ceremony.

The seniors, along with family and friends, had gathered in the Ephrata High School auditorium to be recognized as they prepare to take the next step of their educational journey.

The awards ranged from certificates, to gifts and cash plus promises of scholarships for college classes completed in the future. But Groff held the largest and most historic of benevolent prizes in his hand, the J. Harry Hibshman Scholarship.

As he read the 75 names, the boys and girls rose silently at their seats, before a thunderous round of applause greeted the final name.

Hibshman made sure that this 50th anniversary of the scholarship would happen when he created his Last Will and Testament before his death in 1964.

“Mr. Hibshman was hired by The Ephrata National Bank in 1890,” said ENB archive creator Paul Brubaker. “Since he had no children and no living siblings, he was afraid that no one would remember him.”

The former bank resident served an amazing 41 years on the Ephrata Area School Board and chose secondary education as his legacy. The will called for a $500 award to Ephrata senior boys, for each of four years in college. There were eight original ‘Hibshman’s’ in 1965 and four of the eight were in attendance last week.

“We’ve had to petition the courts several times over the years to change the will,” said ENB Director of Marketing Craig Rodenberger. “Logic would say that we would petition the courts again for increases.”

Some of those changes included the addition of girls (1970) and a raise in yearly awards to the current $3,000 level.

By the numbers

Harry Hibshman was 17 when he started working for The Ephrata National Bank. His tenure lasted 74 years. He was one of four children, but the only one that lived to maturity. He never accepted more than $10,000 salary as bank president, but died with an estate of $1.5 million in blue chip stocks, all of which was designated for the scholarship trust.

There are five mandatory panelists for the interview portion of the scholarship. They are EHS principal, school district superintendent, school board chairperson, mayor of Ephrata and president of the Ephrata National Bank. There are 100 points maximum in determining the successful scholarship recipients, breaking down as follows: 45 points for financial need, 20 for class rank, 15 for the interview, 10 for SAT score, 5 for extracurricular activities and 5 for citizenship.

The scholarship remained at $500 per year for the first 21 years, or until 1985. The following year, the trust increased the annual amount to $1,000 per annum. By 1991, the annual amount was $1,500 and 2003 saw a bump to $2,000 each year. The current level of $3,000 was approved just last year. The largest dispersement was made in 2008, when 182 students received a windfall of $1,777,500.

The50-year totals have benefitted 3,968 students to the tune of over $23 million.

About the man

“I retired in 2009,” said Brubaker. “But I did get to work with Mr. Hibshman for three years (1961-64). He was very interested in people, often basing loans on character. When I had been working at the bank for only two weeks, he asked me my father’s name, my grandfather’s name and my great-grandfather’s name. He knew them all.”

“Mr. Hibshman was influenced by his mother, who told him never to get his feet wet, it leads to illness,” continued Brubaker. “Because of that, he wore goulashes and carried an umbrella every day, rain or shine. He even covered his shoes when going to the bathroom.”

Hibshman never married and never owned a car or drove, choosing instead to walk to work from his modest home at 100 Washington Avenue in Ephrata.

“He was a frugal man and astute,” added Brubaker. “He obviously made sound investments.”

The Hibshman trust is also the envy of many other local and regional school districts, as Rodenberger can testify.

“We occasionally get inquiries from other schools to see if their students would qualify.”

To follow the 50-year path of “The Hibshman” one of the 1965 recipients, Dr. Daniel Doremus was interviewed.

“I sure do remember the pride, when my name was announced. I could see it in my parents in the audience. Even though it was only $500, at that time, it almost paid for the entire tuition at Millersville, where I received a BS in elementary education.”

Doremus continued his education at Penn State, where he was awarded both Masters and Doctorate degrees. He taught at the elementary level in Lancaster and State College before becoming a principal at Phillipsburg, Annville-Cleona and Hempfield. His well-rounded administrative career led him to director of curriculum at Shippensburg High School and assistant superintendent at Warwick, where he retired in 2004.

Doremus also serves on the board of the Warwick Education Foundation and was the presenter last Wednesday for the $1,000 scholarship given by the Lancaster County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association.

During his welcoming remarks, EHS Principal Scott Galen described how if it had not been for the Hibshman Scholarship Trust, he would not be where he is today.

“I met my wife at Messiah College, where she was a ‘Hibshman’ recipient. And my first job interview in education was with Dr. Dan Doremus.”

A special six-minute video has been created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hibshman Scholarship Trust and can be seen from links at the Ephrata National Bank web site, on YouTube and Facebook. When shown to the awards ceremony audience last Wednesday, there was a tremendous ovation.

Fifty years and $23 million worth.

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