Ward D. Harrison was hopeful that by starting a scholarship fund, students might have the good fortune that was afforded to him decades ago.
Ward’s younger sister, Helen Bluhm, remembers that it was a combination of an inspiring high school teach and being the recipient of a scholarship that motivated Ward to further his education. Harrison received the first American Legion Scholarship to attend Mason City Junior College (NIACC’s predecessor) in 1927. Bluhm says in the days of the Depression that kind of scholarship assistance “was God sent.”
“Ward was very proud of being able to go to college mostly on scholarship.” Bluhm said. “He has a big spot in his heart for scholarships.”
Harrison’s high school chemistry and physic teacher, Mr. H. H. Boyce, encouraged him to go to college. Boyce knew Harrison would need financial assistance, as many families in that time did and created a scholarship with requirements that only Harrison could meet. Even with the scholarship, Harrison took a year off between his freshman and sophomore years to work and save money. While at MCJC, Harrison joined the football team and became the quarterback. He graduated from MCJC in 1930.
“He loved MCJC,” Helen Bluhm said. “It opened up many doors for him.”
“His scholarship meant a lot to him,” Martha Harrison, Ward’s wife, said. “He might not have gone on to school without this great start to his education.”
Harrison enjoyed learning and bettering himself through a college education. He went on to graduate from Iowa State University with a chemical engineering degree and earned a Ph.D. from the Institute of Paper Chemistry in 1936.
After graduating from school, Harrison put his degrees to use in the paper industry. He worked for several paper companies before buying Howard Paper Mills in 1972 where he served as President and Chairman of the Board of his family-owned business.
Harrison passed away in August 1986 however, his passion for scholarships lives on through the Ward D. Harrison Memorial Scholarship.