Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Reconnecting with Winners

One of this morning's e-mails was titled "RTNDF - Reconnect with a Winner." It began, "Recently we sent a packet to all scholarship and fellowship winners to find out about your recent activities and to find out where your path has taken you since you were selected an RTNDF winner."

I immediately thought of my long-time mentor Barney Oldfield, former treasurer of the Radio and Television News Director's Foundation.

We didn't get the annual Oldfield Christmas Card this year, but I knew he'd established an incredible website a few years ago so I googled it and there was the news: Barney Oldfield, age 93, died on April 29, 2003 at Cedars-Sinia Medical Center. Here's what the AP wrote:

"Barney Oldfield, a retired Air Force colonel who was a publicist and press agent for stars such as Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor and Ronald Reagan during their Hollywood years, died Saturday in Los Angeles, a friend said."

Barney and his wife Vada had no children, but cared enough about future generations to set up more than 100 scholarships including the one I received. How did a retired military man have the means to establish millions of dollars of scholarships?

In his words, "For those who have never given scholarship establishment serious thought, thinking it beyond their grasp and resources, let nothing deter you. By using the cumulative method and taking one's time, it's relatively easy to do; and there's hardly anything equal to it in satisfaction when it materializes and becomes operational."

That's true. Barney's example and counsel were instrumental a dozen years ago when I served as executor of a friend's estate. With a single legal document we put a long-term plan in place. It took about a decade to accumulate, but now interest from his gift enables the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma, California to award the Richard K. Gaskins memorial scholarship each year.

Thanks, Barney. Without you I might not have chosen my first career as a journalist. I definitely wouldn't have had that four year RTNDF scholarship to the University of Utah, and I certainly wouldn't have thought it possible to help endow a scholarship.