Diefenbach Family Scholarship Fund Continues to Make a Local Impact
Over the last four years, twenty-three students from the area have benefited through a generous gift from Leroy Diefenbach.
A longtime Carrier Mills resident, Diefenbach announced in 2011 the establishment of a $100,000 endowment fund to help high school graduates obtain a college education from Southeastern Illinois College and make an economic impact on southern Illinois. Since then, he has added $66,310 for a total of $166,310 in scholarship assistance to SIC students.
“Mr. Diefenbach’s continued giving to the College Foundation is paramount to our mission to support students as they continue their post-secondary education,” said SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice.
“The Diefenbach family has a long history with the College and southern Illinois. It is an honor to have such wonderful scholarship opportunities for students attached to their family name because this type of giving is so very important to help area students.”
In 2011, Diefenbach provided scholarships to two students attending Southeastern who also had attended school in the Carrier Mills-Stonefort school district. Since then, twenty-one high school graduates from Carrier Mills-Stonefort, Harrisburg, Eldorado, and Galatia have received scholarships of $1,000 each.
In 2012, Diefenbach was presented with a plaque to honor his family and demonstrate their service to education. The plaque now hangs in the Carrier Mills-Stonefort Corridor on the SIC campus.
Diefenbach and his late wife, Norma, represent a long-standing commitment to the college and its district, dating as far back as 1960 when the community college system in Illinois was just beginning.
Mrs. Diefenbach volunteered to drive Saline County residents to the polls that year to vote for establishing Southeastern Illinois College. Her efforts and those of other supporters resulted in a favorable vote representing a 14-to-1 margin, by far the widest margin of support for a community college in the state of Illinois.
The Diefenbachs raised six children, all of whom attended the Carrier Mills-Stonefort school district over a span of 78 years. Many of the children attended SIC.
Building from the ground up, the Diefenbachs started a construction business and several other businesses, including raising hogs and cattle and managing rental property. Mr. Diefenbach built a number of the rental units himself and purchased others to help his company prosper and the community to grow.
“The scholarship fund is a way I can make a difference in students’ lives so that they can make a difference in their communities,” expressed Diefenbach.