Family gift will fund ICC music scholarship

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

A $1 million gift that will create an endowed scholarship for music students marks the single largest cash gift ever received by the Illinois Central College Educational Foundation, says Robin Ballard, the Foundation’s executive director.

Earlier this month, the ICC Educational Foundation received $1 million from the estate of Harold L. Harsch Jr., born and raised in Peoria but who resided in California at the time of his death in April 2010. Harsch, a 1939 graduate of Peoria High and a 1943 graduate of Bradley University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, made the bequest in honor of his mother, Lois Baptiste Harsh. The son specified that the funds be used to benefit students studying piano which was a large and important part of his mother’s life.

Starting piano lessons from her mother at a very young age, Lois Harsch taught piano lessons for more than 70 years and was organist at First Baptist Church in Peoria for more than 50 years. When she retired, she was named Organist Emeritus with an annual recital presented in her honor. In addition to being a well-respected organist, she was also a pianist and composer. She was born in Jacksonville and came to Peoria with Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Stead who founded the Peoria Conservatory of Music from which she graduated.

The $1 million gift will establish an endowed scholarship fund for students majoring in music at Illinois Central College. The need based scholarships will be available for both full- and part-time students and will require a minimum 2.25 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale).

“This gift will allow Illinois Central College to reach out to students who may not have been able to study music otherwise,” says Christopher Gray, associate dean of arts and communication at ICC. “Through the generosity of Mr. Harsch, we will honor his mother’s legacy and provide needed support for students studying piano.”

Robin Ballard, executive director with the ICC Educational Foundation, said, “This gift will change lives and will make education more accessible. It’s all thanks to the thoughtfulness and planning that Harold Harsch Jr. made to honor and memorialize his mother. This is the perfect example of how one person’s or family’s estate which is the culmination of a lifetime or more of hard work and savings can create a gift that will improve the lives of others forevermore,” Ballard says.

“This money will be invested and administered utilizing the ICC Educational Foundation’s endowed fund spending policy. And because of that, the gift will continue in perpetuity,” Ballard says.