Thanks to the enduring legacy of a standout Marshall High School graduate and the help of some of his closest classmates, almost two dozen other seniors were able to fulfill their college dreams.
Founded in memory of 1952 Marshall High School all around student stand-out Pancho Patterson, the scholarship fund created by his friends and classmates, has now awarded almost $120,000 in scholarship to Marshall High School graduating seniors since 2002.
Now in its last year, the Pancho Patterson Scholarship Fund prepares to award its last scholarship to a Marshall High School senior seeking to achieve their college dreams.
This year’s winner will be announced at the annual Maverick Honors banquet, hosted by the Marshall ISD Education Foundation and set for 6 p.m. on May 18 at Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Marshall.
“In his pre-school days, Pancho’s parents were both teachers down in south Texas and his friends began calling him ‘Pancho,’ which is Spanish for ‘Frank,’ and obviously, the Spanish version stayed with him throughout his life,” classmate and friend Bill Lewis said in a statement. “His full name is Frank Ewing Patterson. His parents eventually moved to Marshall and Pancho attended South Marshall Elementary School, and of course, Marshall Junior High School and Marshall High School — graduating in 1952.”
Lewis said his friend was well liked and an all around great student and athlete.
“Pancho was a very smart young man and although I have no statistics as to his class standing, I am confident that he was in the top 5 or 10 percent of our graduating class. He was also an excellent athlete, lettering in football, baseball, basketball and track and had there been soccer back in that time, I am confident he would have earned a letter there, also,” Lewis said. “He was about the most well rounded individual you would ever hope to meet.”
Pancho continued his studies after high school and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering and later entered the U.S. Air Force.
“It was while in the U.S. Air Force in 1959, while flying co-pilot in a B-47 bomber on a routine, mid-air refueling exercise, that something went terribly wrong, and the plane went down, with the loss of the entire crew,” Lewis said.
Just in his mid-20s at the time of his death, Pancho’s friends and classmates were devastated at his loss but it wasn’t until a class reunion, 43 years later, that the Pancho Patterson Scholarship Fund was birthed.
“We were at our 50 year class reunion and we were discussing ideas and someone came up with the idea for a scholarship fund,” Lewis said. “We, of course, were all on board.”
Not only were Pancho’s friends on board, but a large part of the Marshall High School Class of 1952 jumped on board as well, allowing the fund to raise enough money to begin awarding scholarships in 2002.
“The keeper of the fund, Edward D. Jones Investments, has done an outstanding job in keeping the fund solvent and growing,” Lewis said. “But, our generosity in the yearly awards has exceeded the growth, and we find ourselves faced in this final year, with a remaining principle to be awarded to the last recipient, following which, the Pancho Patterson Scholarship Fund will be permanently dissolved.”
The scholarship fund’s chairman Ken George, who managed the fund throughout the years, also passed away last year.
“Scholarships have been awarded to 22 recipients from the fund and each recipient was selected by a blind panel of judges, who didn’t know the names of any of the applications they were reading,” Lewis said. “The recipients were selected based on merit and need.”
In the early days, scholarship amounts to recipients started at $1,000 and then grew to $5,000 and then $10,000.
A plaque bearing the Pancho Patterson Scholarship Fund name and each year’s recipients hangs in the Marshall High School library, where not only Pancho, but the students helped in his memory will always be remembered.