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'43 Alumna Establishes Scholarship at Catawba College

November 02, 2006

Category: Academics, Alumni, Students


Alma Wagoner Leinbach '43 of Newton says it was almost predetermined that she would attend Catawba College.

To ensure that other students have the same opportunity that she, and other members of her family, did, Mrs. Leinbach has established a scholarship at the institution. Preference for the Roy E. and Alma W. Leinbach Endowed Scholarship Fund will be given to able and deserving pre-ministerial students or students from Catawba County who demonstrate need.

Mrs. Leinbach's parents, the late B.F. and Jennie Barringer Wagoner, both from Rowan County, attended old Catawba in Newton and are counted among the class of 1901. Her older sister, the late Margaret Wagoner Davis, graduated from new Catawba in 1940. When it came Alma's time to go off to college, she remembers that there was not much to discuss.

In a cyclical turn of history, that family tradition of attending Catawba continued in Mrs. Leinbach's own family. Her late husband, the Reverend Roy Leinbach, earned his degree from Catawba College in 1933. Then, three of the couple's four children continued in their parents' footsteps at Catawba. Linda Leinbach Ferguson of Plymouth, Mich., graduated in 1966; Nancy Leinbach Laimbeer of Newton graduated in 1968; and Katherine "Kathy" Leinbach Frye of Catawba County graduated in 1981. The Leinbachs' son, the late Roy William Leinbach, also attended Catawba briefly.

"Here is a family who seems tied through the generations to Catawba College," notes Catawba College Senior Vice President Tom Childress. "This new scholarship is a way to assure that future students at the institution remember and honor the Leinbach family."

The late Reverend Leinbach, who died in 1993, was the minister at the Wagoner family's church in Newton, Grace Church. It was from the pulpit that he first encountered Alma Wagoner. After her graduation from Catawba, she married this United Church of Christ minister.

"It was an adventure and we were into a lot of different things," Mrs. Leinbach remembers of her life with her husband, who served for 27 years on the Catawba College Board of Trustees. "He loved his work at Catawba, his work at the UCC Retirement Home in Newton, and serving on the Nazareth Children's Home board of managers.

"Roy felt such a closeness to Catawba, even after all of these years of us being away from it as we were," she continues. "I was just thinking about Roy and thought we needed a way to remember his work. He never wanted to take credit when he was living, and I just thought that he should get credit for the work he had done and credit in this way."

Mrs. Leinbach, a retired teacher in the Catawba County Schools, actively supported her husband's work at various pastorates including Newton, and Startown. She served as organist at St. Paul's in Newton, the church she now attends, and was active in the Sunday school, and various women's organizations of the church.

When asked what it was like to come back to her alma mater with her husband who had graduated 10 years before her, she remembers: "We had different friends, but we both just blended right in. It was something about Catawba – the spirit of the school that made it so outstanding."

Endowed scholarships at Catawba College are established with gifts of $10,000 or more.