Frances M. Whitfield Scholarship

Frances Moffit Whitfield, RN, BSN, WWC class of 1955 feels quite strongly that Warren Wilson and the faculty at that time had a profound and positive influence in helping her achieve her personal and professional goals. She and her husband feel that establishing this scholarship is a small way that they can say thank you.

“I absolutely would not be where I am today without Warren Wilson,” says Fran Whitfield. Like many other Asheville residents in the post-Depression era, Fran was poor as a child. To earn money, she worked after school and on weekends at a Pack Square fruit stand. Her good friend Margaret often kept her company there.

“We would see two boys who were catching the bus out to Warren Wilson,” she recalls. “One day, they told us ‘you should go to school out there.’ We explained that we couldn’t afford to go to a private high school, but they said to come out anyway, so we did. We met with the dean, and we were both admitted.”

“I spent three wonderful years there. I took secretarial courses, but I had wanted my whole life to be a nurse. I remember my English teacher, Helvi Harkla, who must have read my senior paper where I talked about my hopes and dreams. She said ‘Fran, you’ve got to fulfill your dream,’ and helped me get a loan from the Presbyterian Church to go to nursing school.” Now, Fran has 51 years of nursing experience and still works with Phase I clinical pharmaceutical trials. She and her husband, Doug, live in Chapel Hill, NC, but have recreated close ties with Warren Wilson. “I went back for the first time since graduation in 2000,” she says. “I started a series of Golden Anniversary 50th reunions at Homecoming for classes from the 1950s.” With Fran’s encouragement, those classes have created several scholarships, as well as renewed strong friendships.

Fran and Doug also have created a scholarship of their own. “Doug inherited property, sold it, and used the proceeds for Warren Wilson because he knew how important it was to me,” says Fran. “He created a scholarship in my name.”

Doug also suggested that the couple make a planned gift using an insurance policy. “It was easy to do, and we had already qualified for a similar policy to benefit our church,” he explains. The couple pays the annual premium and receives a charitable deduction on their income tax. “Warren Wilson has helped so many people. It taught us a work ethic and respect for all mankind. The faculty was devoted to the students. We all worked together. Those were the best years of my life.”

The earnings from this scholarship are to be used to help a deserving student who does not have the financial means to receive the special and individual education that Mrs. Whitfield received.