James "Jim" C. Norwood Jr. SFC '66 views Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to St. Francis College in May of 1964 as one of the proudest moments of the St. Francis legacy. He also believes the connection Dr. King made with the St. Francis community is more relevant today than ever. "Dr. King continues to be an international figure for social justice as the struggle for equality continues. It is a big deal that Dr. King's name is in the same sentence as St. Francis College and the University of New England. This is something that needs to be remembered and celebrated."
To help ensure that future UNE students share in the impact of Dr. King's message and his visit to St. Francis College, Jim and Joan Norwood have made a bequest to establish an endowed scholarship. The St. Francis Alumni Scholarship for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy will be awarded annually to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a commitment to the values and traditions of social justice. "It is our intent that this scholarship will commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., his historic visit to SFC, and his pursuit for social justice. By establishing this endowment, we hope that future recipients will recognize the importance of King's visit and be inspired by his message."
Norwood found a "home away from home" at St. Francis. In addition to the classmates who became his lifelong friends, he formed close bonds with Father Clarence LaPlante, Father Donald Nicknair, Professor Ernest Therrien and Professor Jacques Downs. After college and two years of active duty in the US Navy in Okinawa, Japan, Norwood reconnected with his high school sweetheart, who was teaching elementary school on Long Island, NY. "I took Joan out on a Thursday and proposed three days later," he recalls. The Norwoods settled in Missouri, had five children, and Jim demonstrated his entrepreneurial spirit in the shoe business, beginning as a sales executive for the Brown Shoe Company, then graduating through the ranks to become CEO and President of Pacific Dunlap Ltd, Footwear USA. After a management buyout, he went on to create Norwood Shoes, and later with Joan, Norwood Management, through which the family owned and operated 11 shoe stores and ladies fashion stores in Virginia until retiring in 2009.
Today the Norwoods are full-time grandparents, with seven grandchildren to date. Norwood is still very close with his college classmates, and they keep each other connected to the St. Francis College family. As a trustee of UNE and donor to the Annual Fund, Norwood is dedicated to giving back to the place which first nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit. "Joan and I feel strongly that by establishing this legacy commitment at UNE, we will continue the Franciscan tenets of social justice and philanthropy."
Establishing an endowed scholarship can be a wonderful way to share your values with future generations of UNE students. Please contact us to discuss the many ways to make this happen.