Durham couple establishes $1 million scholarship endowment at WCU

Students seeking degrees in the emergency medical care field at Western Carolina University will now have some help paying the cost of their educations, thanks to a pledge of $1.035 million from a Durham husband and wife establishing an endowed scholarship fund in honor of their late daughter.

Nancy Creery in November 1999

Through previous gifts and pledges of $35,000, Presley “Pres” Creery and Katherine “Kitty” Williams Creery had previously created a WCU scholarship fund in memory of their daughter Nancy, who lost her life in an automobile accident in Knoxville while a graduate student at the University of Tennessee. After finding out about an approval for her graduate assistant position and for her research project, Nancy Creery was driving to tell her boyfriend the good news when the accident occurred. The couple had been scheduled to pick up her engagement ring the following morning.

The Creerys have now pledged an additional $1 million estate gift to increase scholarship assistance and program support in WCU’s Emergency Medical Care Program. The endowment will help continue her legacy, they said.

“Nancy worked with the Knox County Rescue Squad on the night shift while she was a microbiology student,” Kitty Creery said. “Helping others through emergency medical care was a passion of hers, and she was looking forward to a health care-related career.”

The gift is one of those that have come on the heels of an October announcement by WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher and wife Susan Brummell Belcher of a $1.23 million gift for the university’s ongoing efforts to provide increasing scholarship support to help deserving students in their pursuit of higher education.

Presley “Pres” Creery and Katherine “Kitty” Williams Creery

Pres Creery received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WCU in 1968, before serving with the Army in the Vietnam War. He returned to WCU to earn his master’s degree in education in 1972.  He worked in industrial training and later started his own business. He wrote a book with Kitty, “Reducing Labor Turnover in Financial Institutions.” He now is disabled, a result of exposure during his military service to Agent Orange.

Kitty Creery received a bachelor’s degree in math education from WCU in 1970 and her master’s degree in middle grades education in 1971. She has been an educator for 30 years.

“Having taught high school, I have worked with many deserving and qualified students who didn’t have the means to attend college,” she said. “That is especially true for anyone seeking an advanced or specialized degree. We hope this will help some of those students to obtain their dreams.”

WCU is in the leadership stage of its Lead the Way fundraising campaign. For information, visit the website give.wcu.edu.