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When an idea goes as planned

When an idea goes as planned
Thelma and Clarence Tschudy

During their life, Thelma and Clarence Tschudy made a plan to combine their love of education and their community with an estate gift. They continue to make an impact today. Thelma was born in Aviston, Illinois, on November 21, 1903, as the first and only child born to James and Ina Twiss. The Twiss family were landowners in the Aviston area when Thelma was a child. Education was always important to the Twiss family. Although Thelma lived in Aviston, she attended school in the neighboring town of Trenton. Thelma was a good student, and she had a sharp mind and wit.

The fact that Thelma had to travel to Trenton to attend school proved to be a blessing. She would take the train to Trenton each Sunday evening and stay at a friend's house during the week before returning home to Aviston on Friday evenings. One Sunday evening a young man by the name of Clarence Tschudy came upon Thelma as he drove by the train station and asked if she needed a ride. They were married on June 14, 1925, and they shared their life together for 68 years before Clarence died in 1994.

The importance of education was a family affair. Thelma's mother, her grandmother, her three uncles and one aunt were schoolteachers. After graduating from high school, Thelma attended McKendree College for one year. She was a fine student, but a physical problem with her eyesight and vision forced her to give up her collegiate studies. It pleased her to see her cousin Irene Phillips Lorton graduate from McKendree and Irene's daughter Judy Lorton Chaney completed her nursing degree as well at McKendree.

Because of careful financial planning and their intentions to help others secure an education, Thelma and Clarence were able to establish an endowed scholarship to assist students from Aviston, Trenton and other communities in Clinton County.

Thelma passed away in 1995 and now more than a quarter century later, the earnings from that endowed scholarship have provided more than $375,000 in scholarship assistance to 134 students at McKendree, many who have stayed in the area and made a difference in the local communities she loved. One former scholarship recipient went on to become a medical doctor at St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese, Illinois and serve as chairperson of the Clinton County Health Department. This recipient and many others fulfill the Tschudy's dream for the scholarship having an impact in their community..

Current scholarship recipient and Clinton County resident, Olivia Bassler '23, said of the scholarship, "I've always wanted to attend a small university where the professors would know my name and be there for me. McKendree offered just the right environment for me. As a private university, the cost of attending weighed heavily on my family. Having the opportunity to receive the Thelma and Clarence Tschudy Scholarship helped to ease the financial burden, and it allowed me to stay close to home."

Thelma and Clarence Tschudy's vision and planning continue to make an impact at McKendree today.