The End of a Great Bequest


April 4, 2024

After a 30-year run, the Ruth E. & Leon E. Pearson Scholarship Memorial Fund will be terminated. It has been a rewarding and humbling journey for me, and I appreciate all who volunteered their support over the years.

The Pearson Scholarship is separate from and not to be confused with the NHLA Scholarship. The NHLA Scholarship is alive and well. The Pearson Scholarship was a private foundation endowment trust.

The Pearson Scholarship was established in 1993 by Ruth Pearson in memory of her husband Leon Pearson who passed away in 1988 at the age of 82. The Trust was established with the help and witness of NHLA members Chuck Simpson, Dana Samson, Carolyn Meehan (Carolyn Isaak), Robert Bickford, and Palmer Keolb; Ruth Pearson being the Grantor. There have been many volunteer committee members and chairpersons over the years. The current committee members are Alan Anderson (chairman), Chuck Simpson (he just cannot go away), Peter DeBrusk (he cannot go away either), Jeff Toomey and Heather Linehan (NHLA VP liaison). Over the years the Scholarship has helped Horticulture students from UNH Thompson School of Applied Science, UMASS Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and NHTI Technical School of Landscape Sciences with financial assistance to achieve their scholastic objectives.

Mrs. Pearson’s original gift was $100,000. The fund grew over the years, and more than $58,000 was awarded to students.
There are several factors contributing to the termination of the scholarship, foremost was the loss of the nonprofit status from IRS and lack of students applying for it, plus a significant struggle to obtain the turnover of committee chairs. Besides myself on the committee, two members have been volunteering for a number of years.

I have been chairing the Pearson Scholarship Committee for over 9 years and took over the reins again in August of 2022, only to find out that the IRS had relinquished the nonprofit status because of failure to file the paperwork for a period of three years.

We did not have any applications for 2023 so no scholarships were awarded.

As per the stipulations of the trust and Ruth Pearson’s wishes, the balance of the Funds (close to $52,000) will be gifted to UMASS Stockbridge School of Agriculture, expressly The University of Massachusetts Foundation,Inc. The Trust Estate will be transferred in memory of Ruth and Leon Pearson to support a professorship in a field related to the horticultural sciences. Leon Pearson is an alumni of the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School and attended in 1937 and 1938. So it’s come full circle so to speak.

It was an honor to have been involved with this scholarship providing college students with a unique opportunity to defray tuition costs. It has been a privilege to have participated with the generous offering from Ruth Pearson for the horticulture and landscape profession. I would like to thank all who participated through the years.

Thanks to Mrs. Pearson for her generosity.

— by Alan Anderson

I want to acknowledge the great effort that Alan Anderson has provided for the Ruth Pearson Trust. Whenever there was a lapse in leadership he would jump in and right the ship. He would take back the dreaded “Box” of scholarship documents. We all have busy lives and the last thing we want to do is file a tax return for a trust, or find a bank for a new account, gather people for a vote, but Alan would always find the time and make it happen. People have no idea the commitment Alan had for this job. You would think giving away money would be easy. It was a common theme that we would shake our heads in disbelief that we couldn’t find applicants for free money, sometimes reaching amounts of $5000 per student!

Thank you Alan. “What a long strange trip it’s been.”
— by Chuck Simpson