Richard Earl "Dick" Davis Family Memorial Scholarship

Dick. the first of six children, was born on November 28, 1938, in Kansas City, Missouri. At the age or six his father was drafted into the armed forces, so he and his family relocated to his mother’s family homestead established in Henry County in rural western Missouri. His life was nurtured within a farming community that valued faith, family, personal responsibility and charity. His formal early education took place in a one-room school house prior to entry into high school at the age of twelve. Gifted with many natural abilities, a drive to acquire knowledge—he completed a correspondence course in electronics at age fourteen—and an aptitude for how things work, one of his first jobs off the farm was in radio and television repair. Soon he moved to Illinois in order to pursue a career in the rapidly expanding telecommunications industry. Throughout life he embraced each new opportunity with skill, high expectations and determination. Those characteristics were, without a doubt, instrumental for his academic achievements as a “non-traditional” college student – married with two boys ages nine and seven.

Among Dick’s most notable endeavors was his success as an adult learner with a family in the midst of life’s everyday challenges. Lacking the resources to purse higher education in the late 1960s, Dick competed for and was awarded a scholarship from the IBEW and tuition aid from his employer Illinois Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T). That launched him on the path to a remarkable college experience. He completed the rigorous engineering curriculum at Bradley University located in Peoria, Illinois over the course of just four years plus one summer, was awarded high honors at commencement and recognized by his peers as the 1972 Outstanding Senior Engineering Student. Through it all he was also recognized for having perfect attendance at work. As the breadwinner with a stay at home spouse, day after day he worked full-time from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, slept a few hours, attended classes, studied, and even found time to hang out with his two sons. In addition, having an uncompromising sense of duty to provide for his family and lacking an appreciation for idleness, during a prolonged contentious strike at Illinois Bell he earned minimum wage while cleaning a local park. Clearly, his actions and attitude authenticated a familiar phrase that he repeated often, “I do not have to go to work, I get to go to work.”

Dick was licensed as a Professional Engineer (P.E.) in 1989. Following a thirty-four year career at Illinois Bell Telephone Co., he worked several years at Communications Engineers in Springfield, Illinois. He maintained a commitment to self-reliance throughout his life which led him to perform most household improvements and automobile repairs. His passion to create inspired numerous woodworking and electronic projects and the assembly of two experimental aircraft, one which he completed and enjoyed piloting many hours prior to his death on June 19, 2006, at the age of 67.

Scholarship Criteria

  1. Recipients will be Missouri residents as well as US citizens or permanent residents.
  2. Recipients must be undergraduate students pursuing a degree in the Joint Engineering Program.
  3. Recipients must demonstrate high financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  4. Recipients must have completed 60 or more credit hours toward an engineering degree and be in good academic standing.
  5. Preference will be given to non-traditional students with one or more dependent children.