Lives having an impact

Among the many privileges I have as president of Davis & Elkins College is representing the institution at funerals for those significant in the history and life of the school. My spouse, Lisa, and I recently had one such opportunity. A chance encounter at the funeral brought home in vivid terms the importance of how we live our lives and the lasting impact of a life lived faithfully.

Dr. Alex Booth died on Aug. 17 at the age of 93. His life was long and meaningful, and his impact was felt far and wide. A native West Virginian and a successful businessman, he gave generously of his financial resources and utilized his business acumen to maximize the impact of his gifts. He contributed millions of dollars for scholarships to three colleges, including D&E, provided support to ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), supported hospitals, senior living facilities, arts organizations and indigenous missionary efforts in Africa. In the 1980s and 1990s he provided several generous gifts to Davis & Elkins that resulted in the naming of Roxanna Booth Hall for his mother and Booth Library in honor of his family.

In February, Lisa and I had the opportunity to visit with Alex and his wife, Katherine, at their home in Florida. I am grateful for that opportunity to have met Alex, and hear of his passion for education and the spread of Christianity. Katherine wrote a book about Alex’s extraordinary life called “Walk Faster, Alex,” which is now in Booth Library at D&E.

As we walked out of the church in Huntington, following his funeral, a young woman approached us and identified herself as a 2008 D&E graduate. After learning she was working as a nurse in Huntington, along with other biographical information, I asked about her attendance at the funeral. Her response was a real tribute to Alex and his legacy. She stated, “I was blessed to be a Booth Scholar in the nursing program at Davis & Elkins College. If it had not been for Dr. Booth, I could never have attended College and would not have fulfilled my dream to become a nurse.”

When we pass from this life to the next, we cannot take our money or our possessions with us. We leave behind memories and the impact our lives have had upon others. Alex Booth changed this young woman’s life and made her dreams reality. He did it for thousands of others as well. I can think of no greater tribute or legacy.

As D&E enters the final year of our $100 million “Secure the Future” Campaign, I am meeting many alumni and friends of this institution who, like Dr. Booth, are investing in the hopes and dreams of the students of Davis & Elkins College. Their selfless gifts are making dreams become reality. For those who love Davis & Elkins College and want to leave a legacy, now is the time to support the “Secure the Future” Campaign with current gifts or an estate provision. All gifts are being matched through the McDonnell Challenge. Like Dr. Booth, we can influence lives and, in turn, make this world a better place.

The journey continues…


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