College and trust officials held a news conference on Thursday morning to announce the distribution of the remaining portion of $1 million in scholarship endowments from the estate of David Lewis, who died in 2009.   The endowments will benefit students at College of the Ozarks, Drury University and Ozarks Technical Community College.  The Missouri Department of Conservation also will receive funds plus 362 acres of property in Taney County from Lewis’ estate.

Lewis died in 2009.  Having no heirs, he donated his life savings and family property to enhance higher education opportunities for students in Taney and Stone counties. His family’s real estate, which borders pristine Bull Creek, was donated to MDC to be enjoyed by future generations of Ozarks’ residents for hiking, fishing, and hunting.

Lewis came from humble Ozarks beginnings. He did not crave the spotlight nor did he seek recognition. In fact, he had to be convinced to share part of his life story, which shows his humility and selflessness.

Lewis was a true Ozark Mountain Son.  He was born in 1933 in Rockaway Beach, and died in the Lewis family home in 2009, just up the road from Lake Taneycomo. 

Lewis in many ways was a simple man and always was closely connected to his family farm.  He was not the CEO of a large corporation, nor did he inherit large wealth. He made his money from working at Sears in Springfield for nearly 40 years; from farming and raising cattle on the family homestead; and from investing and saving his money.

Through his frugal living, upon his death, Lewis was able to leave more than $1 million to each of the three colleges and universities to be used to fund scholarships to help Taney County students achieve their educations.  David believed, “if we haven’t helped somebody as we go along, we haven’t accomplished any mission.” Lewis’s gifts will enhance the lives of generations of future students.


News release from OTC:

A big donation aims to help students at Ozarks Technical Community College make ends meet. The OTC Foundation received a $100,000 donation from the Lewis Family Foundation to endow the OTC Student Emergency Fund. The donation was announced Thursday at College of the Ozarks.

David Lewis, a lifetime southwest Missouri resident, died in 2009 and gifted $1 million to OTC student scholarships. Lewis had no dependents and wanted to make sure his legacy continued to help students fulfill their academic aspirations. The $100,000 gift announced Thursday for the OTC Student Emergency Fund is in addition to the original $1 million gift for scholarships.

“Mr. Lewis continues to help OTC students even five years after his death,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College. “His generosity allows our students to focus on their education and achieve their academic goals.”
The $100,000 gift will help students with living expenses including transportation, food, utilities and personal-care products.

“Many of us take basic needs for granted,” said Cliff Davis, vice chancellor and executive director of the OTC Foundation. “By helping students pay for gas or groceries, the OTC Foundation can alleviate the pressures felt by students facing financial hardships. Thanks to the Lewis Family Foundation, we can continue offering assistance to more students each year.”