A $40,000 gift, provided anonymously to the University of Nebraska Foundation, recently created the Laverne Clark Memorial Scholarship for students studying music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Income from the endowment creates at least one annual music scholarship.
The scholarship, named for a long-time Kearney resident, gives first preference to students attending classes instructed by James Cook and second preference to piano students. Candidates must be music majors at UNK’s College of Fine Arts and Humanities.
Laverne Clark, who died in May, worked for many years in Kearney as a tailor. He had a passion and love for listening to music.
“Something tells me when Laverne listened to music, he was in another world and nothing else mattered to him,” said Laverne’s wife Arlene. “He always liked music.”
She said a quotation from author John Erskine shares an apt perspective of Laverne’s love of music: “Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.”
Laverne and Arlene attended numerous concerts at UNK. Laverne especially enjoyed watching Cook play the piano. Cook teaches piano performance at UNK as well as other classes. His research – which was honored in 1997 with the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award from the University of Nebraska – allows him to work with orchestras across the world, especially in Europe.
“We are thrilled to have this support for our performance program in the Department of Music and Performing Arts,” said Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities at UNK. “It shows that we have support from the greater Nebraska community for what we do artistically, and this gift can help us to raise our level of artistic instruction and education.” Miller said the scholarship will aid the college as it recruits students to study the performing arts at UNK.
“Laverne would be so happy to know that he’s responsible for somebody to get a scholarship like that,” Arlene said. “I’m sure he didn’t dream in his whole life that he would have anything to do with something like that.”
The University of Nebraska Foundation is a nonprofit corporation supplementing support for students, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Nebraska’s four campuses through gifts from alumni, friends, corporations and other foundations.