Estate gift establishes scholarships for future nurses, student-athletes at Tennessee Tech

Williams Hutchins_Garrett_estate_gift_2012Ask anyone who has lost a loved one how they cope with their sadness, and most will say through a close reflection on cherished memories.

Beverly Garrett was no exception. After the passing of her two children and her husband, she chose to lessen her grief by honoring them. Garrett arranged an estate gift to Tennessee Tech University, and that plan established two scholarships after her death in May 2010.  The scholarships honor her son’s and daughter’s interests, athletics and nursing.

Originally from Michigan, Garrett moved to Cookeville in 1992. She and her husband Frank, a veteran of the U.S. Army and a retiree of General Foods, placed a high value on education and encouraged their two children to work hard in school.

Their daughter Carla graduated nursing school and became a neonatal nurse in Michigan. Their son Michael, who loved athletics and dreamed of being a professional sports writer, wrote for his high school newspaper in Livingston, Tenn.

Carla and Michael passed away before they could enjoy long careers. Michael died in 1992, and Carla in 2000. Frank Garrett died in 2003.

“When I first visited Mrs. Garrett in 2003, she had suffered through immeasurable tragedy, all within a decade,” said Tiff Rector, director of the planned estate giving program at TTU.

“She cherished her memories of her family and was determined to find a way to memorialize them,” Rector said. “She decided that endowing scholarships in memory of her children, using eventual estate funds from retirement accounts, was the best way to accomplish this.”

The recent receipt of more than $400,000 from Garrett’s estate has endowed two scholarships at TTU, one in athletics and one in nursing.

“This is a wonderful contribution to our school,” said Bedelia Russell, interim director of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. “Nursing students incur significant costs related to clinical experiences, especially for experiences in specialty areas such as neonatal nursing.

“We are so happy to memorialize Mrs. Garrett’s daughter through this gift. It will allow for students to gain clinical experience in specialty areas of nursing and to help students become as successful in their nursing careers as Mrs. Garrett’s daughter, Carla, was in hers,” said Russell.

“Mrs. Garrett’s gift is one of the largest single contributions we have received,” said Mark Wilson, director of Athletics. “Thanks to her generosity, our student-athletes will continue to excel in both the classroom and in their respective sports.”

The Garrett Family Athletics Endowment and the Garrett Family Nursing Endowment will help generations of students.

“Mrs. Garrett not only left a legacy for remembering her family, she set an example for everyone to follow by turning tragedy into something that can be meaningful forever,” said J. Mark Hutchins, vice president for university advancement. “Her desire to honor Carla and Michael in this significant way will have an impact on a countless number of students in the future, and each will benefit from learning about her and learning from her example.”

Rector recalled that Garrett once told him she had two things to look forward to – seeing her family again and leaving a legacy in memory of her children. “I’m truly proud that she has now accomplished both,” Rector said.