A dream that never came true for the man who dreamed it will yet be helped toward reality for eight other people when the first distributions are made this fall from the William J. "Bill" Befort Scholarship fund at Fort Hays State University.
Eight future teachers at FHSU will receive scholarships of $400. The Befort Scholarship is for students majoring in teacher education who show a financial need.
Befort, who died in 2000, was one of 13 children from Hyacinth, KS, whose parents died young. The family was able to stay together with the older children raising the younger ones. All of the children finished eighth grade at a nearby school, but none could attend high school, since they could not afford the gas money to drive there. The children supported themselves with gardening, farm work and doing odd jobs for neighbors.
Befort yearned to go to high school and college, but his circumstances made that impossible. Instead, Befort ran a custom cutting business, worked in oil fields, and eventually became a custodian at FHSU, a position he held for 16 years.
Part of the attraction of the job, he once said, was "heating in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer," a substantial improvement over conditions in the oil field.
Befort's sister, Jane Gottschalk of Hays, talked about her brother's desire to establish this scholarship: "Bill wanted to help students have the opportunity to have an education that our family never had." Through his estate, Befort has made his dream come true.
The 2002-2003 academic year recipients are Laurenda Werth of Hays, Tamara Padfield of Nashville, KS, Jessica Stein of Eudora, Amadee Befort of Victoria, Brett Koster of Clay Center, Travis Nittler of Medicine Lodge, Brett Marrs of Hays and Nate Naasz of Beloit.