Boardwalk fire and aftermath
Nancy Bingham wants to preserve the memory of her daughter, Nicole, by awarding scholarships to students with her daughter's passion for learning.
Nicole Bingham was one of three people who died in the October 2005 fire at Boardwalk Apartments. Now, two years later, details have been finalized on the Nicole Bingham Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to Kansas University history majors who have no higher than a 3.5 grade-point average.
"Nicole never made good grades," Bingham said. "She was very bright, gifted, always participated in class, but she never liked to do homework."
Nancy Bingham created the scholarship fund - now standing at $30,000 - with what remained of Nicole's college money and donations from families and friends. As a Boeing retiree, Bingham had her donations matched by the company.
The first scholarship, about $1,500, will be awarded next fall to an undergraduate history major.
"Nicole had a passion for learning ever since she was little. She loved to travel and she just loved learning about different areas," Bingham said.
Bingham, who hopes to add to the fund, said she relied on Nicole's friends' help in establishing the scholarship.
Megan Denchfield, a 2007 KU graduate now living in Sacramento, Calif., said Nicole wanted to make an impact on people's lives.
"I think she would have (liked to be part of something like this)," Denchfield said. "Her friends were a big part of her life. She had a friend who passed away and she was always big on making sure his life lived on, that people knew who he was."
Bill Tsutsui, chairman of KU's history department, learned about six weeks ago that Nancy Bingham was eager to create a scholarship in his department.
"It's such a wonderful thing that her mother did to keep (Nicole's) memory going at KU," he said.
Tsutsui said the department has available only three scholarships for its 550 undergraduates.
"Having another one is really going to help people," he said. "We're planning to give it out as a lump sum to one student each year. I'm sure we'll have a lot of very qualified students for this."