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April 10, 2014
By Elisa Lanter, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University alumna Ruth McQuerry has established an endowed scholarship in memory and honor of her late husband, Wayne H. McQuerry. The couple always remembered their humble beginnings at Northwest, and Ruth hopes to provide opportunities to younger generations through her financial gift.
The Ruth (Collins) McQuerry and Wayne H. McQuerry Memorial Scholarship is available to students who have declared a major in a natural sciences or mathematics program and maintain a 2.75 grade-point average. Preference will be given to students who major in nanoscale-physics or mathematics and have graduated from a Missouri high school.
Ruth is a 1945 graduate of Northwest, and Wayne received his degree from the University in 1949.
“We both came from poor roots, and we would not have grown to where we are today without Northwest,” Ruth said. “The school will always have a warm spot in my heart.”
Dr. Michael Hull, assistant professor of chemistry at Northwest, said McQuerry’s gift will have a significant impact on assisting Missouri high school graduates in pursuing degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – fields.
“Physics and mathematics are the foundation of all other sciences,” Hull said. “Therefore, this gift is an investment in the most fundamental of sciences. Nano-physics in particular is at the frontiers of optics, quantum mechanics and nanotechnology. This gift will be significant in helping to train the next generation of physicist solve the technological challenges of our society.”
Ruth and Wayne grew up on small farms in rural Atchison and Harrison counties, and neither of their parents could afford to send them to college, which they both desired. Still, Ruth and Wayne made necessary sacrifices to attend Northwest, which was the closest and most viable university for them at the time.
Ruth worked part-time while at Northwest, taking classes year-round to stay on track. She graduated with a degree in vocational home economics. Wayne enlisted in the Navy V-5 program, allowing him to finish two years of college prior to entering the NAVCAD program in August 1943. He received a commission as ensign and was designated a naval aviator. In December 1947, he returned to Northwest to complete his degree in math and physics.
Some of the couple’s fondest memories of their time at Northwest include attending campus activities and events. They went to concerts, picnics, ball games and other forms of entertainment on campus. A trip to the Methodist church for Sunday night supper was a normal social outing for the couple.
After Ruth’s graduation in February 1945, she taught high school in Hopkins. The two were married in December 1945 but lived separately due to Wayne’s stationing in Florida. Ruth eventually resigned from teaching to join Wayne while he continued training at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla.
The McQuerrys lived together for more than 60 years, mostly in California. Wayne worked with North American Aviation near Los Angeles Airport and was later employed at Rockwell International in Downey, Calif., with its Space Division from 1963 to 1990. With diligence, Wayne supported all Apollo and shuttle programs until his retirement.
“As a communications specialist, he took great pleasure for the success of Apollo, including the Apollo-Soyus test project, the first international manned Space Mission in 1975,” Ruth said. “The background he received from Northwest in physics and mathematics contributed greatly to his accomplishments.”
Northwest honored him in 1986 with its Distinguished Alumni Award. He received various awards and recognitions including two NASA Silver Snoopy awards for continuous and outstanding contributions to the Apollo Ku-band, as well as to the high-gain antenna for the shuttle orbiter program. He served as a member of the support team at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, during launches from Cape Canaveral and later with the support team at Rockwell in Downey.
Wayne passed away April 21, 2006. Ruth celebrated her 90th birthday last November with her children, extended family and friends. Together, the couple raised four children: Thomas, Patricia, Samuel and Bruce.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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