Robert E. Kimes
Robert E. Kimes

Windham – “Pennies from heaven” are raining upon college-bound graduates from Windham High School, thanks to a $491,000 scholarship endowment created by 87-year-old Youngstown State University alumnus and former teacher Robert E. Kimes.

YSU President Jim Tressel (pictured above) visited Windham High School on May 4 to make the announcement. While Kimes was not present at the news conference, Tressel called the gift “Pennies from heaven for us, and for the kids as well. We’ve been working hard to expand the footprint of YSU, and it just so happens that there are six or seven kids coming from Windham.”

YSU Public Information Officer Ron Cole shared, “So many of the teachers and others at Windham have great memories and stories about Mr. Kimes.” In fact, Kimes was the fifth grade science teacher of current Windham Superintendent Gregg Isler.

Representing Kimes’ life savings, the scholarship honors the memory of his wife, Anneliese Kimes; her sister, Maria; and mother, Wilhelmina Berg. Kimes and his wife, a native of Germany, were married in 1955. They were married 59 years until her death in 2014.

Kimes, who was a math and science teacher at Windham Middle School for 15 years, was quoted as saying, “My wife and I always believed that education is one of the pillars of today’s society, and that is why I chose to honor her, her mother and sister this way. I think a scholarship is the best way to help current and future students reach their full potential.”

Tressel said scholarship endowments like the Kimes gift create a lasting legacy. “We at Youngstown State are so grateful for the generosity of donors like Mr. Kimes who value their own education and who want to provide financial assistance for deserving students for many, many years to come.”

Kimes chose to give to YSU through the YSU Foundation because he appreciated how his professors worked with him and helped him finish his degree, even after he suffered a heart attack as a student. Kimes was a non-traditional student when he started at YSU, having served nine years in the Army and working for a local business as a bookkeeper and logistics specialist before heading to college. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

Windham Jr./Sr. High School Principal Laura Amero says that YSU is still working out the financial details, so the number of available scholarships has not yet been determined. The first students to benefit from the gift will be from the Class of 2017. To qualify, a scholarship applicant must be a Windham High graduate with a minimum GPA of 2.0 and with demonstrated financial need. The scholarship will pay one year of full-time tuition, books and fees for one or more recipients, depending upon available funds. The scholarship is renewable for up to three more years, as long as eligibility requirements are met.

Amero called this scholarship gift “Phenomenal,” adding that “this should push more students toward YSU. Those who do attend YSU tend to do very well there and succeed in obtaining their degrees.” Typically, Windham graduates gravitate toward Kent State and Akron University, which are closer to home. There is currently one Windham grad attending YSU, with five from the 53-member Class of 2016 heading there next fall.

Tressel encouraged students set goals, work hard, and continue to have faith in their abilities and dreams. Pennies from heaven will make those objectives much less difficult to reach.