Lois Alban, who for many years has given generously to Barton Community College, traveled 1,000 miles to attend the Aug. 12 Renovation Celebration showcasing the college’s renovations involving three buildings on its campus. Now living in Mission, Texas, she continues giving to the college.
A college spokesman said her generous donation to help with renovations on Barton’s campus resulted in the naming of the Lois Alban Classroom, one of the new automotive classrooms in the Technical Building, T-177. In addition, she donated to the Learning Resource Center renovation.
Alban has supported the college for many years through annual donations to the Barton Foundation’s Academic Enrichment Fund and through the G.E. and Lois Alban Endowed Scholarship, which she and her husband, Jerry, established in 1994.
Because Lois is former co-owner and office manager of an automotive parts company in Great Bend, the Albans chose to benefit students majoring in auto technology or office procedures with their endowed scholarship.
Barton automotive technology instructor/coordinator Darcy Wedel presented a plaque to Alban during the Renovation Celebration.
"We continue to show our appreciation to this special lady for all of the opportunities she continues to give us," said Wedel. "We take great pleasure in having her here so that we can publicly thank her for caring about our students and leaving such a legacy."
Alban said she plans to continue doing what she has been doing to support the college and its automotive department.
"I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college after high school, so I’d like to make it possible for students to get a college education," she said. "I happened to be able to finance ‘a few’ scholarships, and I want to continue that, forever."
Lois Shaffer grew up on a farm west of the area where the college was later built, and she attended Great Bend schools. She and her first husband, Dale Simonson, were co-owners of Automotive Parts Co. Inc. and she served as office manager and corporate officer of the company for 18 years. She later was employed by the Lee Turner law firm.
Jerry Alban was vice president and cashier of Security State Bank when its president and founder, J.A. Mermis Jr., began to explore the possibility of a community college in Barton County. Jerry’s generosity toward Barton County Community College went back to those early days when the idea for a community college was the topic of many discussions in the bank’s coffee room. When the college opened in 1969, Jerry’s daughter, Connie, was among its first students.
Upon Jerry Alban’s death in 1997, his family honored him by having a memorial donated to the Barton Community College Foundation to increase the G.E. and Lois Alban Endowed Academic Scholarship. Through the years, Lois has continued to transfer stocks to the Foundation to benefit those endowment funds.
Even though the fund now stands at nearly $100,000, she still sends annual donations, and each year, the endowment provides as many $1,000 scholarships as the interest earned will allow. The fund is perpetual so students far into the future will benefit from the Albans’ generosity.
In 1999, the College honored the Albans with the Distinguished Service Award, recognizing their acts of philanthropy. In 2004, Region VII of the National Council for Resource Development honored Lois in Washington, D.C., as Benefactor of the Year for all of her support to Barton’s students and programs.
The Albans began supporting the college years ago by attending the Foundation auctions, and at one of them, they acquired "Old Bill," the old buffalo head that in those times with humor was placed on the auction block each year for the highest bidder.
Lois and Jerry lived in Great Bend until 1990 when they moved to Texas. The distance didn’t diminish their desire to support their hometown college and help it succeed. "I plan to continue that support for the rest of my life," Lois said.