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Carl Helwig an American Scholar

Carl HelwigCarl Helwig’s goal was to become, in his words, an “American scholar.” That was an impressive aspiration for a boy born in Marosujvar, Romania, who immigrated to the United States at age 6 with his parents and sister in 1924. Between then and the day he died in January 2011, at age 93, his love for his new country and his passion for education drove his remarkable accomplishments. By leaving his entire estate to Old Dominion University to establish the Carl Helwig Undergraduate Humanities Scholarship, he made it possible for others to achieve their own academic goals.

His story reveals a lifelong pursuit of excellence. At 18, Carl joined the Army as an enlisted soldier and retired in 1956 with the rank of major. Relying on the GI Bill, he enrolled as a first-year student at Case-Western Reserve University at the unconventional age of 38. Eleven years later, he left Case-Western with a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, one in American Studies (1961) and another in English (1967).

He wasn’t finished.

Next came a doctor of education degree in administration and supervision in 1969 from the University of Akron. In and around pursuing his own higher education, Carl became a teacher in the public schools in Ohio and at various colleges. He came to ODU in 1968 as an assistant professor of education and was eventually promoted to the rank of associate professor of educational foundations and special programs. He retired in 1979 and, though he continued to teach part time and enjoy some personal pursuits — gardening, travel, reading, raising tropical fish and growing exotic plants — he still wasn’t finished!

Remarkably, at age 78, he received yet a third master’s degree, this one from ODU in humanities.

Carl was the first among ODU’s emeriti faculty to will an entire estate to the university. Alonzo Brandon, vice president for university advancement said, “Carl’s generous endowment will support up to five full-time renewable, merit-based scholarships per year — a legacy that will give rise to ODU’s next generations of American scholars.”

As you make your estate plans, please consider how you might also make a difference to future generations of students at Old Dominion University.

For assistance, please contact Barbara M. Henley, CFRE at 757-683-6563 or bhenley@odu.edu or Brett A. Smiley, CFRE at 757-683-4735 or bsmiley@odu.edu. If you have already included ODU in your estate plans please let us know so we may thank you.

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