The HDH and Flora Showalter Endowed Scholarship Honors a Legacy of Giving

By Lauren Jefferson | December 20th, 2017

Dennis and Sharon Showalter, both 1973 graduates (below at right), are guiding a scholarship endowment in honor of Dennis’s grandparents, HDH and Flora Showalter (above, far left and right), who were early supporters of EMS. Family members have been invited to join and contribute to the legacy.

H.D.H. AND FLORA SHOWALTER were among the first donors to the fledging Eastern Mennonite School in 1916, contributing funds for maintenance of the run-down former resort hotel, known as the White House. The couple farmed 10 miles north on Trissels Road, where they raised nine children.

Dennis Showalter ’73 remembers his grandfather well, though by that time, HDH was retired and had lost his voice. HDH was a songleader at Trissels Mennonite Church and was well-known for his singing.

The early generosity of HDH and Flora ensured the school would eventually grow to the university it is today. Generations to follow would benefit. “Six of HDH and Flora’s children attended EMS,” Showalter said, “along with at least 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren who have at-tended EMC and EMU.”

The HDH and Flora Showalter Endowed Scholarship – with a priority for students of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent in the computer science, mathematics or engineering program – honors the Showalter legacy of supporting EMU.

“We want all students to have the opportunity for an education at this school, which we value so much,” said Sharon Showalter ’73. “It’s still a community which is giving back to us and we wanted to join in that spirit.”

Dennis and Sharon met at EMC as first-year students. They went on to careers in special education and nursing, respectively, spending most of their years in West Liberty, Ohio. They’ve recently moved back to Harrisonburg to be closer to their children and grandchildren, but another benefit has been an opportunity to reconnect with EMU and witness “the wonderful things going on here,” Sharon said.

That information comes firsthand now: a baseball fan, Dennis recently conversed with a pleased parent while watching a game. They have also taken in concerts that showcase student musicians and enjoyed the intellectual offerings of numerous speakers.

Slowly, news about the endowment is moving through the extended family. “We’ve been inviting family members to join in honoring HDH and Flora, and in strengthening EMU’s endowment,” said Dennis. “We want to continue the legacy of giving that our grandparents displayed.”