Three SSU students receive Kirkendall Athletic Scholarships

Published 9:34 am Monday, April 2, 2012

PORTSMOUTH — Edward and Ruth Kirkendall were both Golden Bears and staunch supporters of Shawnee State University athletics.

Because of their affinity for Shawnee State athletes, the Estate of Ruth Kirkendall made a gift in excess of $90,000 to the SSU Development Foundation to establish an athletic scholarship. This is the first endowed scholarship exclusively for athletics.

Each year at least two athletes are awarded the scholarship for outstanding achievement both in the classroom and on their teams.

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“My grandmother was a Golden Bear for as long as I can remember, perhaps since the club’s beginning,” said granddaughter Vicki Rice, of Columbus. “Most Fridays you could find her and my grandfather down at the university.”

This year, the Edward and Ruth Kirkendall Athletic Scholarship was awarded to three Shawnee State University student athletes, Ericka Leighty, of South Point, Jordan Williams, of Uniontown, and Cody Bond, of Minford.

Bond plays soccer where he has earned all-conference twice, academic all Ohio twice, academic all American and team captain. He was accepted into the doctoral program in physical therapy at the University of Dayton.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude for the generosity of the Kirkendall family for giving me this scholarship,” Cody said.

Williams is majoring in natural science with a concentration in biology in hopes of becoming a physician’s assistant. He is a pitcher on the baseball team and beaten the appearance record all three years he has played.

Leighty is an exercise science major. She received All-MSC Conference honorable mention her sophomore year and All-Academic Team award (maintaining higher than a 3.5 GPA).

“Throughout the years my grandparents were both big fans and supporters of the Shawnee State Lady Bears basketball team,” Rice said. “Mamaw (as we all called her) so enjoyed the bus trips to the away games and rooting for ‘her girls.’ And she did consider them her kids.”

When a game was in a town near her family and friends in other cities, Ruth Kirkendall would get them to go to the games. She formed many bonds with the students.

“I’m sure she was a grandmother to several students,” Rice said. “Her generous spirit was felt by many. Even in death, my grandparents’ generous spirit continues.”

For more information on how to support scholarships and other initiatives at Shawnee State University, contact the SSU Development Foundation at (740) 351-3284 or