Many of the institutions that advance our knowledge and contribute to the arts and culture of our community benefit from generous gifts and bequests. Southeast Missouri State University welcomes donations through its foundation, which raises money to benefit many of the university's most prominent programs and scholarships.
One of the largest gifts ever to the university was made by two Southeast Missouri natives and longtime supporters, William and Christene Merick. The donation was mostly land in the area of Catron, Mo. -- some of the most valuable farmland to be found anywhere. Selling the land generated $4 million for the university.
William Merick received a degree from Southeast in 1935 and was a teacher, coach and superintendent in several school districts. He retired and began farming in 1972, acquiring more than 2,200 acres of farmland in the process. He died in 1988. His wife, Christene, also a schoolteacher, died recently, leaving the estate to Southeast.
Like so many others, the Mericks had long been supporters of Southeast, making annual donations since 1978. They also supported the university's agricultural and athletic programs over the years.
The Mericks showed their appreciation to the university in many ways, and Southeast will benefit for years to come.