Vietnam veteran donates $500,000 to support Tarleton nursing scholarships

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STEPHENVILLE (November 8, 2016) — In concert with last week’s 40th anniversary of Tarleton State University’s nursing program, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Leigon deeded farmland near Morgan Mill to provide financial assistance for students.

Ninety percent of the funds from the eventual sale of the property—expected to be more than $500,000—will provide scholarships to nursing students, while 10 percent will benefit students enrolled in Tarleton’s College of Liberal and Fine Arts.

Representing Col. Leigon was Russell Leigon, who said his father is genuinely concerned about the education of young people, especially those who can’t afford to attend college.

“He wants to ensure that they receive an opportunity to get the kind of solid education that ensures a successful career and an improved quality of life,” the younger Leigon explained. “This has been his dream for the past 25 years. Now, it’s a reality.”

Col. Leigon, 97, currently lives is Austin. When his father died during the Great Depression, his mother moved from the family farm into Stephenville, buying a 12-bedroom, two-story house on McIlhaney Street and turning it into a boarding house for students.

Col. (Ret.) Charles Leigon
Col. (Ret.) Charles Leigon

“My father remembers those difficult years,” Russell said. “He has a lot of memories of the students who rented rooms at the boarding house—students from rural Texas who had to work hard to pay for a college education—and he remembers his own financial struggle to earn a degree.”

During visits back to Tarleton for alumni reunions, Col. Leigon took a special interest in the school’s nursing program and the vision of university leaders to help meet North Texas’ need for highly-qualified registered nurses.

“My father recognizes the need for more highly-skilled nurses,” Russell said, “and he believes the program at Tarleton offers some of the best education and training in the state. Deeding the family farm to the university not only benefits nursing students but helps meet a critical need for healthcare professionals throughout the state.

“It’s the kind of win-win that does my father proud.”

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