Sprehe Scholarships Awarded

May 1, 2014

Sprehe Scholarships Awarded Sprehe Memorialized on 100th Birthday

The Ralph & Bernice Sprehe St. Mary Parish/Kaskaskia College Scholarship Trust Board of Directors recently selected 13 students to be scholarship recipients for the 2014 – 2015 school year. The Trust will distribute a total of $53,300 to these St. Mary Catholic Church parishioners to assist them in continuing their studies this next school year at Kaskaskia College and four-year universities.

Recipients of the Kaskaskia College Full-Tuition Scholarship valued up to $3,360 each include Alexis Holmes, Cody Langenfeld, Kaleb Robinson, Emmalee Ray and Jamie Resch.

Recipients of the Baccalaureate Scholarship valued at $4,500 each awarded to Kaskaskia College graduates who are continuing thaeir studies at a four-year university of their choice include Regan Broughton, Daniel Fullerton, Matthew Geiger, Megan Chillson, Jacob Featherling, Paige Gogolek and Taylor Logullo.

Mitchell Martin was awarded the Ralph Sprehe Memorial Scholarship valued at $5,000 to attend Kaskaskia College.

Ralph Sprehe (6/25/1914 – 8/5/2004), born in Hoffman, is being memorialized by the Sprehe Scholarship Trust and the Centralia St. Mary Parish community in the year of his 100th birthday. He had the vision and generosity to provide a large gift which funded the Ralph and Bernice Sprehe St. Mary Parish/Kaskaskia College Scholarship Trust 16 years ago on February 14, 1998. Ralph established the Sprehe Scholarship Trust to provide annual full-tuition Kaskaskia College scholarships for parishioners of St. Mary Church from the interest earned on his gift to the Trust. The Sprehe Scholarship Trust insures that today’s and tomorrow’s children of the church will have the opportunity to attend college and make it possible for them to improve their lives – an opportunity for a college education that was not available to Ralph during the Great Depression when he graduated from Centralia Township High School in 1931.

Employment opportunities were bleak in 1931. Ralph went to the Hoffman Bank and took out a loan on a 1930 Model A Ford 1½ ton truck with payments of $25 a month. He used this truck to start Sprehe Truck Service in Hoffman hauling livestock, grain, lumber, road gravel and other items. He would return from St. Louis with food and agricultural commodities for his father’s General Store in Hoffman and local farmers. He moved the business to Centralia in 1940 and renamed it Centralia Cartage Company. This business grew over the next 37 years to include 8 truck terminals serving all of Southern Illinois with routes to Chicago, St. Louis and Evansville. He coined the Centralia Cartage motto People Make the Difference which showed his compassion and appreciation by always giving his employees full credit for assisting him in building Centralia Cartage Company from a “One Man-One Truck” operation into a large modern truckline. He never forgot the hard times of the Great Depression and not being able to continue his education following high school. St. Mary Catholic Church was a central part of Ralph and Bernice’s lives which gave him the inspiration to start a scholarship fund to send St. Mary Parish children to Kaskaskia College and give back to the Parish community that he loved so much.

The Sprehe Scholarship Trust has distributed nearly $500,000 in scholarships in the past 16 years to St. Mary Church parishioners since the inception of the Trust in 1998. Ralph recognized the importance of higher education beyond a community college. He gifted the Trust with another generous donation in 2003 to establish four-year university scholarships for St. Mary Parish Kaskaskia College graduates. Since 1998, 79 parishioners have been awarded Kaskaskia College full-tuition scholarships. Since 2003, 52 parishioners have been awarded university baccalaureate scholarships to assist the recipients with continuing their studies beyond Kaskaskia College at universities of their choice. Annual awards of scholarships are expected to continue every year into the future funded by the interest from the gifts Ralph Sprehe donated to the Trust in 1998 and 2003.

This scholarship fund has made it possible for some to attend college who financially would not have otherwise been able to attend college. It has also provided the additional encouragement to others for them to make the commitment to attend college. But what is most important is that the lives of the recipients and the lives of their families, both present and future, will have forever been improved because of this financial assistance from the Sprehe Scholarship Trust. This Trust has already touched so many lives beyond those of the recipients all made possible by the vision and generosity of Ralph Sprehe. That is the part of his legacy which will live on down through the generations as these scholarships continue to be awarded in years to come.