The Gift That Keeps on Giving

In 1948, A&M College of Texas (now A&M University), established the “Opportunity Award.” The scholarship intended to aid “worthy young men of Texas” who were unable to afford college without financial assistance. Sid Richardson contributed regularly to the fund for several years. Although he was a wealthy business man, Sid came from a humble background much like the young men the scholarship award supported. “I had it sort of rough when I was young, and I’d like to do something for underprivileged kids.”

Jesse “Jack” Mercer Couch , 1951

Many of the recipients of the scholarship fund wrote Sid letters of appreciation, including the letter on display in our current exhibition from Jesse “Jack” Mercer Couch, who graduated from A&M in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Although Jack struggled at times academically, as even he admits “chemistry is giving me a headache,” his program director still had faith in the young student’s future. An orphan since he was two years old, Jack had dreams to one day own “a piece of ground where I place some cows and some pigs on rolling green pastures; a place with a shiny white house and a red barn and everything that will make a happy farm life.”

“Dear Mr. Richardson,

     I have been informed that you are the source of my opportunity scholarship.  I want you to know that I am deeply indebted to you.  Mr. McQuillen told me that you would be interested in knowing something about me and my standing here at college

My dream and plans are a piece of ground where I place some cows and some pigs on rolling green pastures; a place with a shiny white house and a red barn and everything that will make a happy farm life.  I want to be a service to my country and a good citizen, and I want to be independent to a certain degree.  But I must think of the present and prepare myself.  My curricula is agricultural education which will prepare me to teach vocational agriculture in high school.  I would like to take post graduate work for a master’s degree when the time comes.

The mid-semester grade report showed that I posted18 semester hours and 31 grade points.  Chemistry is giving me a headache.  By the end of the semester I hope to raise my grades.

     I like A. and M. College, R.O.T.C., and all that goes with it, though I am constantly reminded that the feminine influence is lacking.

     If you are not kept too busy I would enjoy hearing from you.

Your friend,

                                         Jack Couch”

Later, in 1965, the Sid Richardson Foundation established the Sid Richardson Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund provides scholarships for college and graduate education and post-secondary vocational training for children and grandchildren of eligible retirees and employees of businesses previously owned and operated by Sid Richardson and designated successor companies and organizations. Over $10 million in scholarship funds have been awarded since 1965!

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