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Hancock endowment aids minority students in W.Va.

June 27, 1999

George HancockBy BRYN MICKLE / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photos: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - There was just one bad thing about George Hancock's $100,000 scholarship donation: It kept him from seeing the end of Sunday's Baltimore Orioles game.

"The (Orioles) had two men on in the ninth inning and my nephew tells me we have to go to church," Hancock said with a grin.

With Baltimore trying to stage a comeback against the New York Yankees, Hancock turned off his television and headed over to Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Martinsburg.

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Walking into a standing ovation, Hancock quickly realized he was the guest of honor for an appreciation day to celebrate his years of service to the community.

Hancock, 77, set up a $100,000 endowment in 1995 to help send area students to college.

The money was the first contribution to the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, an organization that has given $24,000 in scholarships over the last four years to minority Berkeley County high school students, foundation board member Taylor Perry said.

Latoya ParksThe awards range between $1,000 and $2,000 and have helped 17 county students so far get a jump on college expenses, said Perry, who is also the director of pupil services for Berkeley County Schools.

"That money is extremely important. There are a lot of kids who (otherwise) might not go on to college, and this money helps them do that," Perry said.

After spending 44 years working with black children at YMCA programs around the country, Hancock said he saw firsthand how a lack of money could hold back gifted minds.

The scholarship also serves as a reminder of his wife, Holly Woods Hancock, who passed away in 1995, Hancock said.

"It's a wonderful way to remember her and help children," he said.

Hancock received plaques from several groups Sunday, including the Sumner Ramner Association, Mt. Zion Church and the Berkeley County Schools.

"People are often judged by the mark they leave on their community. This legacy (Hancock) has provided for Berkeley County students will live on for many years to come," Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said.

Students from Martinsburg and Hedgesville high schools have used the scholarships to attend colleges that include James Madison University, Shepherd College, Spellman College and West Virginia University.

Latonia Banks, a 1999 graduate of Martinsburg High School, will use her scholarship to defray some of the costs at Frederick Business College in Frederick, Md.

"It's very appreciated. Not just from me, but from my mother," Banks told the audience while thanking Hancock during the ceremony.

Hancock said he is not ready to stop donating.

"Ten to 15 years from now, we'll have to go through this again," he said.

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