Washburn University recently received a gift of more than $1 million from the estate of Mabel Asenath Clem Henderson who passed away Sept. 22, 2013, in Topeka. This gift will endow the LaVern B. and Mabel A. Henderson Scholarship Fund.
Henderson, a native of Corning, Kan., named Washburn University as a beneficiary in her estate because of her love of education. “Aunt Mabel and Uncle LaVern valued education and saw it as a way to achieve their dreams,” said Steve Wesley, Crossville, Tenn. “This gift to Washburn is their way of helping future students obtain a college education.”
“We are honored Mrs. Henderson chose Washburn as the recipient of this generous estate gift,” said Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn University Foundation. “Although the Hendersons didn’t attend Washburn, they viewed the university as a community asset, and we are grateful for their support. Following their wishes, this money will be used to provide scholarships for generations of students to come. This is a meaningful, lasting legacy to their lives.”
Both LaVern and Mabel Henderson grew up in small, rural communities – LaVern in Watonga, Okla., and Mabel in Corning. They met in 1948 at a YMCA dance in Philadelphia and were married two years later in Baltimore.
Mabel graduated from the former Strickler’s Business College, Topeka, and had a successful 35-year career in government service, moving from the Work Project Administration in Topeka, to the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., to the Internal Revenue Service in New York City and then on to Philadelphia.
LaVern graduated from Villanova University, Villanova, Pa. During his career with the Burroughs Corp., he assembled the computer model that was used to put John Glenn in space. He also worked for General Electric Aerospace, Support Engineering Group, Diamond Shamrock and a consulting firm in Chardon, Ohio.
In 1991, the couple moved back to Topeka to be close to their family.
“Aunt Mabel and Uncle LaVern were very quiet, giving people,” Wesley said. “Their gift to Washburn is a reflection of their belief in education. They knew firsthand that a solid education and a strong work ethic could lead to a meaningful, successful life.”