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$110K scholarship gift aids WVU chemistry students in memory of graduate

A $110,000 scholarship gift from Larry Ammons (left) will aid chemistry students at WVU in memory of his late wife, Ann Shelbaer Ammons (right). (Photo courtesy of Larry Ammons.)

A $110,000 scholarship gift from Larry Ammons (left) will aid chemistry students at WVU in memory of his late wife, Ann Shelbaer Ammons (right). (Photo courtesy of Larry Ammons.)

Undergraduate chemistry students at West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will benefit from a $110,000 scholarship gift made in memory of an alumna.

Larry Ammons, of Asheville, North Carolina, established the Ann Shelbaer Ammons Memorial Chemistry Scholarship to pay tribute to his late wife of 52 years. The scholarship will be awarded to full-time students in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry, as determined by leadership.

“We greatly appreciate this support in honor of the legacy of Ann Shelbaer Ammons, who went on to a long and successful career after studying chemistry at WVU,” Gregory Dudley, Eberly Family Distinguished Professor and department chair, said. “This scholarship will make similar impacts on the lives of next generation alumni.”

Larry and Ann Ammons were high school sweethearts at Washington Irving High School in Clarksburg, West Virginia. She earned a scholarship to attend WVU, while Larry went to Virginia Tech through a cooperative education program offered by Union Carbide.

“If it wasn’t for the co-op program and the scholarship she had, going to college would have been very difficult financially,” he said. “We appreciated the fact that you can get funds like this.”

Ann Shelbaer Ammons earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from WVU in 1965. A new scholarship established in her memory by her husband will benefit chemistry students at WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Ann graduated with honors from WVU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She taught math at Washington Irving High School for a few years before the couple moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, where Larry attended graduate school at Purdue University. Ann looked for work and was eventually hired by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly thanks to her chemistry education at WVU.

Larry later accepted a position with Lilly in Indianapolis, and Ann was able to continue her career with the company. She also took night courses, earning a master’s degree in chemistry from Purdue in 1974.

Ann worked for Eli Lilly for 32 years. She spent most of her career in purchasing, where her work focused on procuring specialty chemicals for research and development. She also worked in technical services and research, as well as world group operations.

Ann’s career often required travel, sparking a passion that continued after she retired in 2002. Larry said she traveled all over the world with him, colleagues from Eli Lilly and other friends.  

“It was really because of my love and how proud I was of her that instilled me to do this,” Larry said of establishing the scholarship. “Ann was very active physically and mentally, and she really liked helping people. I think she would have been really proud of having a scholarship in her name in the chemistry department. She used her chemistry education all of her career.”

Ann was also an avid gardener, at one point maintaining a home garden with more than 400 varieties of hostas. Her garden was featured as part of the American Hosta Society’s 2007 National Convention Tour, and she belonged to several gardening groups.

Ann Ammons passed away June 23, 2017, at 73, following a challenging battle with lung cancer.

Larry Ammons’ gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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