OMAHA – Bob Kathol is giving back to the community that gave him so much.
The Hartington native is financing an endowment scholarship, titled the Bob Kathol Family Scholarship, through Creighton University for graduating Cedar Catholic or Hartington Public students.
The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school senior who is attending Creighton University and of good academic standing. The scholarship is an endowed scholarship and will only be awarded to the recipient during their first year at the university.
Kathol, son of the late Leo and Clara Kathol, Hartington, has wanted to start a scholarship for students attending Hartington Public and Cedar Catholic for quite some time.
With the help of Creighton officials that idea has come to fruition.
“Creighton is a good school,” Kathol said. “I owe a lot to that university.”
Kathol graduated from Holy Trinity High School in 1959 and started attending Creighton University that fall. He graduated from the university in June 1963 with an accounting degree. He then went on to a successful career in business, but has never forgotten his roots.
“I surely had a great life growing up in Hartington,” Kathol said. “It is a wonderful town with great character.”
While growing up in Hartington Kathol, was provided with many pleasant experiences with unique individuals.
“It seemed like everyone in town was interested and committed to a youth’s development and achievements,” Kathol said.
Kathol attributes a lot of his educational success and drive to his parents, Leo and Clara; an inspiring teacher at Hartington Cedar Catholic, then known as Holy Trinity High School, Sister Thomasine; and an employer/mentor throughout high school, Jack Konz, manager of The Globe.
He said these individuals and others had a real solid impact on his choices and his determination to succeed at a school like Creighton.
Starting college is a tough decision Kathol said. He feels like one of the biggest impediments of students attending college is the cost of tuition.
“I started college with a $250 scholarship,” Kathol said. “Students need more money to go to college these days.”
Kathol said he financed college with the assistance of the scholarship and by working approximately 30 hours a week. His work ethic was against university protocol at the time.
“The dean of Creighton University business school at the time was against me working and taking 18 credit hours a semester,” Kathol said.
He said the school felt incoming freshman’s primary focus should be on their studies, not finding a way to earn money. If a student attempted to combine work with school their grades tended to suffer.
“After I showed him my grades the dean didn’t have a problem with me working and attending school,” Kathol said.
Through academic achievement and assistance from the dean, Kathol interviewed for and received the Brandeis Scholarship. The scholarship entailed a full-time job in accounting and helped pave a way, financially, for Kathol to complete his education.
Kathol said the confidence of key people and the presence of scholarship inducements represent key motivational factors in his attainment of an education from Creighton.
This is one of four scholarships Kathol assisted in financing.
The impetus behind the scholarship began during dinner conversations with his family in the 1950s. Kathol said his dad, owner and operator of Kathol Plumbing and Heating at the time, wanted to be able to hire people with formal technical training.
Kathol reacted to his dad’s musings during family meals in the mid to late 1950s, by starting the Leo and Gene Kathol Families Scholarship in the 1990s in honor of Leo and Gene Kathol.
It is a formal endowed scholarship geared toward students pursuing a degree at a vocational/technical college.
“My dad always said, if you have the opportunity to give back, you’re obligated to,” Kathol said. “Maybe my small effort and investment will represent the trust and confidence needed for a young Hartingtonite to take the next big step.”