After the passing of their son due to illness in 1998, Tom and Virginia Deighton began the Marc Deighton Scholarship Fund in his memory. For more than a decade, the scholarship has continued to grow and is awarded annually to a full-time psychology major with sophomore, junior or senior standing who is in need and who possesses a minimum GPA of 2.5. To this day, the scholarship ensures that many students to come will be able to do what Marc had intended - earn a degree and continue to make a difference in the lives of many.
"The scholarship started when Walsh came to Ginny and I and wanted to refund Marc's tuition for the school he missed while he was ill," says Tom. "We said we couldn't do that. We decided to put that money toward setting up a scholarship in his name."
"And then Kaiser Permanente was so wonderful," says Virginia. "Some of my co-workers at Kaiser collected about $1,000 to put toward the Walsh scholarship and then Kaiser Permanente matched their contributions. So that was the first seed money that we had. Between our family and friends, Walsh and Kaiser, we've been really blessed with people who donate to the fund every year."
"Our relationship with Walsh goes back to 1995 when Marc was first looking to go to college," says Tom. "My cousin, Joe Deighton, was an assistant dean of students at that time and he was able to tell us more about Walsh when we were looking. We took Marc down and walked the campus and met John Latchic who provided a great introduction to the university. And then we met Br. Charlie. Marc and Br. Charlie became great friends and he stood by Marc's side through his good times and bad when he was ill. So when I think of Walsh University, I think of a group of great people. Those were just some little things that the university really endeared in our hearts. And each year, Ginny and I will receive applications for the scholarship and it's heart-warming for our family to read each student's story and learn of their hopes should they receive it. It reminds me of the thoughts and feelings that Marc had about school and moving along in his studies. And each time we come to campus to present the scholarship, it's always fun to see the excitement in the student's eyes as they realize that they now have the ability to continue their education. Walsh has been really generous in inviting Ginny and I down to the university to have dinner with the recipients as well. Many of those students have sent us 'thank yous' after that and some will send us Christmas cards each year. It really encourages us to continue the scholarship."
"The thing I think I will always cherish most is how the students and faculty at Walsh were always keeping in touch with Marc when he was ill," says Virginia. "One time, in January of '97, he went back to school and was only there a few days before he fell ill again and had to go back into the hospital. But Walsh was always so accommodating to him when we went through this. And it's amazing with Marc's friends now - we still keep a close connection with them - Craig Eynon, John Regner, Ted Mahoney; all of his friends. Marc loved to hang out with them."
"To a parent whose child has passed, it's amazing to have all these blessings come out of it. We had all of these people supporting Marc when he was ill and we didn't even really know a lot of them at first. It surprised us sometimes hearing about all of the things Marc would do or activities he was in when he was on campus. I think it's because the campus was small and he had opportunities at a smaller school that you don't always have at a bigger college. The students knew him well, the faculty cared and invited the kids to take part and offered so much help along the way. Marc was a quiet kid and would never want this much attention on him but he would be really proud of the fact that this scholarship is there for others each year."
Tom, Virginia and the Deighton family enjoy being a part of presenting the scholarship every spring at Walsh's Servant Leadership Banquet. Tom currently works at First Merit Bank and Virginia is recently retired after 29 years as an LPN and administrator at Kaiser Permanente.