Members of the Catawba College Class of 1961 wanted a special and enduring way to honor longtime College employee and 1944 alumna Nina Louise Tucker of Salisbury. They pooled their resources and established the Louise Tucker Endowed Scholarship at the institution in honor of their beloved "L.T."
1961 alumnus Paul McQuade of Ventnor City, N.J., first broached the idea of a possible tribute to Miss Tucker. He enlisted the aid of fellow alumni Ray Oxendine of Maxton, N.C.; Guy Rich of Dahlgren, Va.; and Avery Bordeaux of Raleigh, N.C.; and they spearheaded the fund-raising efforts, writing letters and making calls to classmates. Bordeaux provided the occasion for announcing the tribute, a homecoming dinner.
Miss Tucker learned about "her" scholarship while attending that dinner with members of the 1961 Class during Catawba's homecoming weekend last November. At the event, she was symbolically inducted into the Class of 1961, presented with a certificate of induction and a commemorative Murano glass vase, and temporarily "crowned" with a Catawba College dink — that legendary cap that all Catawba first-year students were at one time required to wear.
Miss Tucker's reactions, as described by those at the dinner, were "incredulous," "disbelieving," and "surprised." According to Class of 1961 newsletter authored by class member Guy Rich, "L.T. was incredulous! Like someone had struck her with a blunt object. The rest of us were not being very helpful ... yelling, cheering, and acting our age. Of course, L.T. did not know what to say. She would not have come had she known that all the brouhaha was about her."
When contacted about the establishment of a scholarship in her honor, Miss Tucker simply said, "I want to thank everyone who helped make the scholarship a reality. Good things have happened to me because I have been surrounded by good people."
Catawba College Senior Vice President Tom Childress called Miss Tucker "one of Catawba College's legends" and commended members of the Class of 1961 for their foresightedness in establishing a scholarship in her honor. "Louise Tucker has touched thousands of lives during her years as a member of the College community. She did that using her distinctive abilities to listen, remember and offer sage advice to students. Those students are now able to express their gratitude for her in a very long-lasting way that will have an on-going impact on new generations of students."
Miss Tucker worked at Catawba for 42 years following her graduation, first as secretary to the college registrar, then as associate registrar, and later as assistant to the vice president for planning and academic services. As an employee, she was described as "accurate, punctual, meticulous, and with a mind like a computer bank." She has been honored by the College with the Trustee Award for Outstanding Contribution to the College, an Exemplary Life Service Award, a Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the O.B. Michael Outstanding Alumnus Award. In 2005, the Louise Tucker Staff Council Award was established in her honor. It is given annually to a staff member who demonstrates outstanding work ethic and performance in their area. Nominations are made by members of the President's Council and the recipient is selected by a vote of the Staff Council.
Although Miss Tucker officially retired from Catawba in 1986, today she remains a loyal supporter of the institution, serving as a resource for both the alumni and public relations offices.
Endowed scholarships at Catawba College are established with gifts of $10,000 or more. Those who wish to make a contribution to the Louise Tucker Endowed Scholarship Fund should contact the Development Office at (704) 637-4394 or send a check payable to Catawba College, noting that it is a gift for the Louise Tucker Scholarship, in the subject line, and mail to Development Office, Catawba College, 2300 W. Innes Street, Salisbury, N.C. 28144.