The Economic Alliance of Lewis County created a scholarship fund earlier this year in honor of former Lewis County Commissioner Gary Stamper, who died of COVID-19 in 2021.
Dolly Tardiff, program manager for the Business Development Center at the Economic Alliance of Lewis County, told The Chronicle the alliance hopes to honor Stamper with a tribute in the spirit of his legacy.
“(Stamper) was so involved with the community and coaching basketball and just involved as a commissioner in general,” Tardiff said. “So he touched a lot of people’s lives. We just thought it would be something to give back to the community.”
Since he worked with kids in Lewis County, the alliance has made the scholarship on theme with Stamper’s work.
“Gary was really involved with education and so part of the scholarship (is) the recipient has to be going into a career in education, and they have to be from White Pass High School or Mossyrock High School,” Tardiff said. “And they can either be graduating, or have previously graduated from one of those schools, so there’s no age limit on this scholarship. That’s a unique piece.”
She said applicants have to be enrolled or enrolling in a college, university or trade school.
And while applicants are asked to provide their transcripts in the scholarship application, the award criteria are not GPA-driven.
“The committee that is for the Gary Stamper Scholarship is made up of the Gary Stamper family, so his two daughters, and his ... life partner,” Tardiff said.
The committee has already chosen a recipient for this year’s scholarship.
“We actually chose our first recipient last week,” Tardiff said. “The recipient’s name was Gary Dotson, and he is from White Pass High School. So he will be the recipient of the first annual Gary Stamper scholarship, and that will be a $1,500 scholarship that will be awarded to him on senior night at White Pass High School (June 2 at 6 p.m.).”
During a recent Lewis County Board of Commissioners meeting, in a tribute to Stamper that included a county-sponsored memorial flag box, Tardiff said when she found out the first recipient’s name was Gary, she knew it was meant to be.
Dotson already has his associate’s degree from Centralia College and he’s going to be attending Lower Columbia College to get his bachelor’s degree in childhood education. From there, he plans to attend Western Governors University to pursue a master’s degree in secondary education.
“He would like to come back and stay local and be a teacher,” Tardiff said. “He’ll have the ability to teach from kindergarten to 12th grade.”
Dotson also gives back to his community with such activities as snow-shoveling the driveways of his elderly neighbors, and he has even repaired an elderly neighbor’s truck bumper, Tardiff said.
The public is encouraged to donate to the scholarship fund so Stamper’s legacy can be carried out year after year, but the alliance also contributes.
“I just think it’s a way to honor him and the gift that he gave to the community and all of his years of service as being a commissioner and being a basketball coach and just being Gary around the community,” Tardiff said. “He was such a happy and inspirational man and it's the least we can do to give this tribute back to the community in his name.”
To donate to the Gary Stamper Scholarship Fund:
• Call 360-748-0114
• Mail checks to P.O. Box 916, Chehalis, WA 98532; Make checks payable to Economic Alliance of Lewis County
• Venmo @Economicalliance