Despite growing up a mere 13 miles from Athens and Ohio University, Hoy J. Seckinger didn’t think he’d go to college after graduating in 1950 from the local high school. In that time and place, he said, there were limited job opportunities in the region.
Seventy years later, Hoy and his wife, Shirley, are doing something else they never thought they’d be able to do: establish an endowed scholarship that will help students from their hometown pursue their educational dreams.
The Hoy J and Shirley K. Seckinger Scholarship will be awarded to full-time undergraduate students at the university who demonstrate financial need, according to a press release from OU issued last week. The scholarship will show a preference to graduates of Trimble High School, which serves the communities of Glouster, Jacksonville and Trimble. The scholarship pays tribute to the university’s role in the Seckingers’ extended family, according to the OU press release.
“Coming from where I’m from and seeing where I ended up, it was all about school,” Hoy said in the release.
Hoy enrolled at the university after its then-President John Calhoun Baker spoke at his high school and approached him about coming to the University. Hoy completed a semester of studies at the university before enlisting in the Air Force in the midst of the Korean War. His time in the service was spent working in a military post office in Newfoundland, Canada, the OU release stated.
When Hoy and Shirley returned to Athens, they faced the same struggle that was there when they left: how to pay for college. Shirley worked in the university’s library, which at the time was located in Chubb Hall, but the financial aid options available to OU students today didn’t exist, the release said.
Hoy went on to earn two degrees – a bachelor’s and master’s – from OU’s Patton College of Education. He then began a career as an elementary school teacher, and he ended as principal and then superintendent of the Berne Union Local School District in Sugar Grove, the release said.Hoy relished the many moments he had as an educator to impact the lives of his students, recalling in particular the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. At the time, Hoy was teaching fifth- and sixth-graders at a school in Nelsonville, according to the OU release.
“I still get letters from students in that class thanking me for making that day easier for them because there was much confusion and I tried to tell them what was happening in the right way,” he said. “Not every class does that, but those kids shared that day together and got through it.”
Hoy’s son, Mark Seckinger, remembered a chance encounter he had at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, where he serves as president.
He came across a man who appeared lost, offered to help him and then introduced himself.
When the man heard Mark’s last name and discovered he was Hoy’s son, he shared with Mark the difference his father had made in his life when, as a young student, Hoy approached him after he hadn’t done well on a test and asked him if he was having trouble reading.
The student confirmed Hoy’s suspicions, to which Hoy replied with an offer to start staying after school and work one-on-one with the student to improve his reading skills, according to the release.
“That gesture stuck with him for 60 years,” Mark said. “He just said what a great teacher (my dad) was. It gave me chills.”
The encouragement Hoy provided to his pupils extended to his home where he and Shirley conveyed to their two sons, Mark and Hoy, BBA ’76, the value of education and the importance of saving for college.
“We came home with money from our paper route and that went into the college fund,” said their son, Hoy. The Seckinger sons each graduated from OU.
“One hundred years from now, students will still be getting the Hoy and Shirley Scholarship,” Mark said. “That’s a special thing.”