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Couple leaves behind a legacy of scholarship for future WVU students, 4-H’ers

Three girls hold a flag with a WVU logo and 4-H logo in front of a large crowd of 4-Hers.

Burkey and Marylou Lilly were proud graduates of West Virginia University. As the parents of three children, grandparents of five grandchildren and great grandparents to three great grandchildren, they valued education and service.

The couple decided that best way they could give back to the University and to the state was by providing future Mountaineers with the opportunity to pursue their dreams at WVU. Through an estate gift to the WVU Foundation, the couple established the Burkey and Marylou Lilly Scholarship. The first $10,000 scholarship will be awarded to a WVU student for the 2019-20 academic year.

“What a wonderful way to honor the Lilly’s commitment to education and to their home state,” said Abby Esguerra, director for development, WVU Extension Service. “The Lillys understood the importance of education in creating lifelong opportunities for West Virginia’s young people. This generous estate gift will provide a legacy of scholarship to future generations of Mountaineers.”

The scholarship will be awarded to a student from Monongalia, Mercer or Summers county, who is enrolled at WVU. To be eligible, applicants must have a 2.5 grade point average or higher, and majoring in any undergraduate program, excluding social sciences. 

First preference will be given to a student who comes from a family farm, as defined by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, or who is an active member of a 4-H club in one of the three counties noted previously. Consideration also will be given to an individual who is completing four years of military service and will enroll at WVU. 

A student who is a recipient one year is eligible for consideration in any other year provided he or she continues to meet the scholarship criteria, with a preference that the same student receive the scholarship award for four consecutive years, as appropriate. 

Students may apply for the Burkey and Marylou Lilly scholarship online. The application deadline is March 31, 2019. 

Mr. Lilly, a native of Hinton, West Virginia, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design in 1954 and 1962, respectively. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, he served as a WVU Extension Service agriculture and natural resources agent in Lewis, Hardy and Monongalia counties. He later served as manager of economic development for Hope Natural Gas. Mr. Lilly passed away in December 2017.

Mrs. Lilly, a native of Camp Creek, West Virginia, received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the WVU College of Education and Human Services in 1964. She taught elementary students at the Grant School in Monongalia County from 1952-53 and was active in the First Baptist Church of Morgantown and Morgantown Service League. Mrs. Lilly passed away in April 2017.

County 4-H youth development programs and scholarship opportunities are the cornerstone of West Virginia communities. 

If you would like to invest in the future of WVU students, 4-H’ers or other important WVU Extension Service programs, contact Abigail Esguerra, director for development, WVU Extension at 304-293-8668 or email 

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