MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dozens of future WVU students — at least — will never meet Forrest D.L. Coontz.
But there’s a chance they’ll have him to thank for helping them get an education.
Coontz, a native of Star City, World War II veteran, and Philippi High School alumni in Barbour County, left $2.3 million to West Virginia in his will, significantly boosting the scholarship fund Coontz and his late wife Barbara established for engineering students.
“The substantial size of this gift, depending on market return, will be a full — if not almost full — scholarship to a couple of students a year,” said Stater College of Engineering Assistant Dean Shams Khan. “His intention was to leave a significant impact on the education of our students.”
Coontz, who attened WVU on the G.I. Bill following World War II, majored in mechanical engineering and spent time at General Motors. He passed away last April.
“He wanted to help those who are going to WVU, whether they are from West Virginia or outside of the state,” Khan said. “He realized that there’s a lot of talent and that they want to take advantage of a great education WVU can provide.”
Khan said students who perform up to necessary academic standards will earn the scholarship, but those same students of financial need will also earn first priority. He’s also hopeful it lead to more students remaining in-state.
“It allows for students within the state of West Virginia to continue staying in the West Virginia,” Khan said.
He added: “It removes the financial limitations that many people in our state have, but it also allows students from outside West Virginia to come into West Virginia so we can keep our talent here and hopefully import some into the state as well.”
Although veteran status is not taken into account by the scholarship itself, Khan said the committees that award scholarships take into account the life and back story of the donor — hoping to award recipients in the spirit of the original donor.
“We’re always cognizant of their history and their story and make sure that the people making the awards have that information,” Khan said.
The Coontz gift was made through the WVU Foundation.