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December 9, 2018

5/15/2018 6:24:00 PM
The Warren 'Billy' Cherry Scholarship Fund Celebrates 25 Years
A Guest Essay by Patty Cherry Reece and Robert Reece


The Warren “Billy” Cherry Scholarship Fund was created 25 years ago in honor of our brother and brother-in-law after his untimely death in 1990.  Since its inception, the Fund has awarded financial scholarships to 216 Evanston Township High School graduates.  As we reflect on the past 25 years, we ask the Evanston community to stand with us as we look to the future. We hope, by sharing our story, we can reach more people, award more scholarships, and keep alive the legacy of a man who truly embodied the essence of Evanston.

Warren “Billy” Cherry was an Evanston educator and leader whose dedication to enriching the lives of children earned him the respect and adoration of the many children, parents, educators and community members whose lives he touched. Warren was the beloved principal of Lincoln School when he died in 1990. His death was not only devastating to our own family, but a great loss to the Evanston community.   

Determined to keep his legacy alive, we, along with an extremely dedicated group of community members, created the Warren “Billy” Cherry Scholarship Fund with the mission to perpetuate Warren’s total acceptance of all people, his commitment to the highest standards of educational excellence, and his energetic dedication to enriching the children and institutions of Evanston.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fund and we are incredibly proud of the work we do in honor of Warren.  The Fund provides financial assistance to ETHS graduates who wish to pursue an associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degree in education or youth work. We strive to identify and award individuals whose circumstances would otherwise make it difficult to realize their dreams to serve others. The selection criteria include individuals who show success in overcoming poor academic achievement or other hardships; who demonstrate leadership, sensitivity, compassion, commitment and love of children; and who have a commitment to community development.

The criteria are also a reflection of the character of the young Warren, known as Billy, who grew up in Evanston. While many knew him as Mr. Cherry, the charismatic leader, Billy was a popular and active boy, but not a very serious student.  Few recognized his tremendous potential to lead and to help others.  After graduating from ETHS, he had planned to become a barber.  Not long after attending barber school, he enrolled at Trinidad Junior College in Trinidad, Colo., where he began to realize his own potential and purpose in life.  His education culminated with completion of coursework toward a Ph.D. at Northwestern University.

 When Warren became principal of Lincoln School, he personally met with every parent, knocking on doors and introducing himself. He quickly became known for his unique ability to connect with his students, often referring to them as his “superstars,” and creating an environment based on the simple notion that all people deserve love and respect. While he had high expectations of his students, he went out of his way to make sure every single child who crossed his path knew they were special and that he believed in them.

In 1993, the first year of the Fund, we awarded one student a $2,500 scholarship.  This year, with the generous support of our many dedicated donors, we were able to recognize 20 scholars and award a record $50,000. 

On April 29 we honored this year’s 20 scholarship winners at our Annual Awards Dinner. Some of the scholars may have financial challenges, some might be late bloomers like Warren, and others may be the first in their family to go to college. No matter what their circumstances, we make sure our scholars know that the Warren Cherry Scholarship family and the Evanston community believe in them and support their dreams. We believe they have the potential to do great things. We believe they can and will make a difference in the community. We believe their best is yet to come.

On Sept. 29, we invite the community to join us in celebrating our 25th anniversary at the Evanston Golf Club.  We will honor past award recipients, celebrate our generous supporters and look at what is in store for the future of the Warren “Billy” Cherry Scholarship Fund and its recipients. 

For those of us who knew Warren personally, he taught us how to lead, how to learn and how to live. His example continues to inspire us to come together as a community to lift up the children and his legacy lives on in the scholarship fund that honors the impact he had on so many.

To learn more about the Warren “Billy” Cherry Scholarship Fund go to www.cherryscholarship.org.







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