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Waterfront Paradise Translates Into Scholarships for UT Business Students

LaVerne and Dale Culbertson

With a six-figure gift from the estate of the late LaVerne and Dale Culbertson '54, the university established a scholarship endowment to benefit UT Knoxville business students.

Although LaVerne Culbertson never attended college, life had taught her enough to turn 42 acres into one of the largest marinas on Norris Lake. When she and her husband, Dale, purchased the Anderson County land in 1962, it was like they were birthing a child—a dream—with their own hands. They painstakingly shoveled dirt to make way for roads. They bore temporary tattoos of splinters when constructing a wooden dock. They endured other bumps and bruises when they installed electricity to Stardust Marina and Resort.

A decade or so before they bought their waterfront paradise, LaVerne and Dale took the training wheels off their steely determination so Dale could attend UT Knoxville. Graduating in 1954, Dale's business degree was a joint accomplishment—made a reality by LaVerne's ample encouragement and financial assistance along with the GI Bill.

"His name is on the degree," explains David Joiner '78, longtime friend and accountant of LaVerne, "but they did it together."

A Shared Voyage
LaVerne and Dale's story began just after World War II. In his military garb and waiting to board a Knoxville-bound bus in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dale noticed LaVerne's luggage identification tag and memorized her name. Searching for a vacant seat on the crowded bus, LaVerne spotted an empty seat next to Dale, whom she had never met. As she approached his row, Dale said, "LaVerne, this seat is for you." LaVerne was instantly wooed and the two were soon wed.

After Dale died in 1986, LaVerne, a self-taught accounting whiz, kept pouring her heart and soul into Stardust Marina, which continues to rank in the top five of East Tennessee marinas, until she sold it in 2000. She never left the water's side. She lived on lakefront property and waterskied until she was 85. More often than not, you could still find her visiting the marina. She died earlier this year.

The couple's joint successes and educational journey cemented their philanthropic loyalty to the university. They established a six-figure bequest for a scholarship endowment in the UT College of Business Administration.

"They wanted their legacy gift to help students who might get overlooked because they have an average GPA," David says. "They also desired to assist veterans and students who have learning disabilities. Although they rarely visited campus, they never forgot the meaningful impact and specialness that UT held in their hearts."

How You Can Help
For confidential information on how you can make a future impact in the lives of students at the University of Tennessee, contact the Office of Planned Giving at (865) 974-4826 or plannedgiving@tennessee.edu today.

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