West Virginia University alumni Don and Beverly Baker have always had a strong desire to give back, as well as deep love and devotion to family.
A recent gift from the couple to the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design helps fulfill that desire and commitment.
Made in honor of Beverly Baker’s parents, the gift endowed the Emory and Emma Thomas Student Fund to support undergraduate activities including independent research, internships, and international travel.
“Beverly’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, had a deep commitment to education,” Don Baker said. “While operating a beef cattle, swine and crop farm, they always felt that obtaining an education was extremely important. While both were high school graduates, neither had the opportunity to go to college.”
However, the Thomases wanted to make sure their four daughters would receive college degrees – and they did.
“They worked extremely hard to make sure that their dream for their children became reality,” he said. “Beverly and I felt remembering her parents by naming the fund in their memory was a fitting tribute to their love and commitment to their children, to higher education and to their vocation of farming.”
Beverly and Don Baker both graduated from WVU in 1971 with bachelor of science degrees in secondary education.
“While not graduates of the Davis College, we feel a deep commitment to its service and support for agriculture which is a main component of its mission,” Baker said. “We especially wanted to support student activities and thought the manner in which we established the fund would help do this.”
In addition to honoring Emory and Emma Thomas, the Bakers believe they are answering a call to give back to society.
“Whether it is to the Davis College, WVU or other worthy causes, we have felt that the blessings we have received should be shared with others,” he said. “God has blessed us beyond anything we have deserved and calls us to share that with others. We consider it a privilege to be able to establish this fund.”
After graduating from WVU, Don and Beverly Baker returned to their hometown of Moorefield, West Virginia, to begin teaching careers. Beverly Baker taught English at Moorefield High School until she retired in 1997. Don Baker taught high school social studies until 1977 when he became executive director of the Hardy County Rural Development Authority. In 1983 he left RDA to become executive director of the West Virginia Railroad Maintenance Authority. He entered the insurance business in 1993 and, in 1997, he opened his own agency, Baker Insurance Services, which he owned until 2015.
The Baker’s contribution was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.
The $1 billion fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.
CONTACT: Lindsay Willey, Communications Manager
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