Oct 29, 2013
Oct. 29, 2013
Gift will help single mothers achieve educational goals and grow athletic programming
SALT LAKE CITY -
Westminster College announces a generous $1 million gift from Ann and Anthony (Tony) Merritt to establish the Tony and Ann Merritt Single Mother Scholarship Fund, the Merritt Athletic Excellence Fund and the Merritt Endowed Athletic Fund.
Tony Merritt was a big man on campus. He only weighed 160 pounds and stood 5 feet 9 inches tall, but he walked into a room like he was 7 feet tall. He was a halfback on Westminster's football team and used his charms to persuade Ann, his future wife, to date him. They were Westminster's Mardi Gras King and Queen in 1964 and were married
48 years, despite "advice" that the mixed-race couple's love would be fleeting.
After graduating from Westminster in 1964, Merritt became the first African-American teacher in Salt Lake City at Northwest Jr. High. While teaching, he completed a Master of Arts in Educational Administration in 1966 at the University of Utah and went on to have a career in the automobile industry, eventually owning a Toyota and Lexus dealership in Mesa, Arizona.
Throughout his career, Merritt truly believed that educating women and mothers provided benefits for everyone in the family. "Tony wanted to help single moms achieve their dream of an education because he believed that helping the mother positively impacts the children," said Ann Merritt. "Additionally, we also wanted to provide a gift that would help Westminster grow its sports programs to a level of excellence that mirrors its academic programs."
Tony Merritt passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 15, 2013. He named Westminster in his estate, giving the college $1 million to create a scholarship and two athletic funds. The Tony and Ann Merritt Single Mother Scholarship was established to help single mothers who are in financial need and are majoring in any discipline-with preference to those who are education majors. The Merritt Athletic Excellence Fund and the Merritt Endowed Athletic Fund will be established to support the college's athletic programs.
"We are extremely honored to receive such a generous gift from the Merritts," said Dr. Brian Levin-Stankevich, Westminster president. "Not only will the single mother scholarship help women in grave financial need get an education, it will provide a turning point in their lives-one that allows for freedom and self-determination."
"We are also very grateful to receive funds that will help us with our continued efforts to enhance the competencies and the visibility of our athletic program," he added. "We attract outstanding student athletes. They, along with our facilities and teams, will benefit tremendously from this gift."
The Merritts believed Westminster gave them a foundation to trust in their abilities, pursue their dreams and accomplish anything. Tony always told Ann that, "if we ever can, we should give Westminster College a million dollars."