A Wichita businessman and Kansas University alumnus has left a $2.5 million estate gift to KU for unrestricted student scholarships.
Paul Brooker and his wife, Mildred Hoffman, earned bachelor’s degrees from KU in 1931.
Brooker died in 2000, after his wife died in 1991. His estate gift to KU took effect after the death of his second wife, Virginia Brooker.
In 1975, Brooker and his first wife established an unrestricted scholarship named for her. The most recent gift creates two more scholarships, one named for him, and one in both of their names.
Marlesa Roney, KU vice provost for student success, said the scholarships would be offered to students that meet KU’s general qualifications for scholarships, based on high school grade-point average and a written essay.
“This will go to students who have been able to demonstrate that they’ve done good work” at the high school level, Roney said, something that matched Brooker’s desire for the award.
Brooker’s firm, Brooker Sales, helped retail stores in North America manage special promotions and store closings. In a letter to KU Endowment in 1989, Brooker talked about his success.
“I accomplished this by extremely hard work and religiously attending classes,” Brooker wrote. “I do not have the IQ of many other people, but I have drive and ambition.”
The unrestricted nature of the gift means that the scholarships won’t be designated toward one particular field of study or geographic area, Roney said, making it truly valuable.
Brooker’s daughter, Diane Wingate, now owns and operates her father’s company with her husband. The business is today called Wingate Sales.
Roney said she met with Brooker’s daughter to thank her for the gift, expressing a message that typically accompanies gifts in estate plans.
“It’s ‘Thank you so much,’ and at the same time, an expression of sympathy for loss,” Roney said.