Northwestern State President Dr. Randall J. Webb announced the renaming during Friday’s Long Purple Line reception, where Gallaspy family members were gathered for the induction of Mary Rives Gallaspy into Northwestern State’s alumni hall of distinction.
“Mary Rives Gallaspy was a kind, generous, service-oriented lady who became blessed with resources and knew well how to manage them,” Webb said. “Her compassion for others during her lifetime was exemplary, but was even more so in her death. When she passed away in December 2010, her generous estate was directed toward the enhancement of the lives of many.”
Last year, the Gallaspy family announced a bequest to Northwestern State University that includes property in DeSoto Parish, as well as a monetary donation that together created the Mary Rives Gallaspy Charitable Trust administered by the NSU Foundation board of directors. Income from the trust funds two scholarships: the Hettie McMullen Fincher Scholarship in Mathematics and the Mary Rives Gallaspy Scholarship for Business and Education. The Fincher scholarship honors Gallaspy’s aunt, who graduated from Normal, as Northwestern State was then known, in 1908. A branch of the Gallaspy family also established the Mary Leigh Marshall Gallaspy Endowed Scholarship for Family and Consumer Sciences.
Gallaspy was known for her generosity and involvement in her community. She was born in Pelican in 1925 and graduated from Northwestern State College in 1946. She did post-graduate study at the University of Colorado and the University of Arkansas, where she received her master’s degree. Gallaspy taught business and Louisiana history at Pelican High School from 1945-1971. She served as sponsor of the Future Business Leaders of America and transported many students to district and state FBLA meetings, as well as musical events, conventions and other activities. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, serving as MU chapter president from 1958-60 and 1968-70. She was Epsilon state secretary from 1959-61. For many years she was active in the DeSoto Parish Retired Teachers Association.
Gallaspy was a lifelong member of the Pelican Baptist Church. She served as chairman of the fundraising committee for the new Fellowship Hall, which was totally paid for when completed. She donated a piano and an organ to the church in honor of her parents, John Baker and Lillian McMullen Gallaspy, a 1913 graduate of Normal, and her aunt and uncle, Hettie and Earl Fincher. In addition, she donated property for the expansion of the Pelican Cemetery, and donated several Pelican town lots to the Pelican Baptist and Pelican United Methodist churches.
Gallaspy was also the owner of Rocking G Farms, a cattle and timber business in DeSoto Parish. She established two subdivisions in the Stonewall area, Pelican Place North and The Meadows.
Through the years, Gallaspy was a caregiver to many elderly relatives and friends in her hometown of Pelican. After her father's death, she and her mother moved to Shreveport. When her mother became ill and two of her aunts also needed care, Gallaspy provided them a home and met their needs. The other half of Gallaspy’s extensive holdings were made available to the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home.
Dr. Vickie Gentry, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, said faculty in the college voted for the renaming and expressed full support of the initiative.
“Miss Gallaspy’s gift to Northwestern will provide the resources for the university to award scholarships to deserving students for decades to come,” Gentry said. “Students now and for future generations will benefit from Miss Gallaspy’s remarkable generosity in establishing substantial scholarship funds at her alma mater that will continue to perpetuate the lifetime of philanthropy and service for which she will be long remembered and appreciated.”
“The funds available to the NSU Foundation are primarily in support of scholarships for students majoring in education, business, mathematics and related fields of study. Thanks to Miss Gallaspy’s vision and generosity, the Foundation awarded Northwestern State students the largest number and dollar amounts in private scholarships in school history this fall,” Webb said. “It is with this deep kinship and high esteem I feel for every member of the Gallaspy family that I proposed the Gallaspy (Family) College of Education and Human Development as the title of the area that has been the cornerstone of Northwestern since its founding in 1884 as an institution of higher education dedicated to the preparation of excellent teachers and school personnel.”
In detailing his family’s long relationship with Northwestern State, John N. Gallaspy, executor, described his cousin’s rural upbringing as one in which education, religion and family were top priorities.
“This environment supplemented by her later years of higher education and followed by her career as a teacher produced the personality and mindset of Mary Rives Gallaspy. When she signed her last will and testament, she was enunciating the theme that shaped her,” John Gallaspy stated. “The Gallaspy family as a whole has been touched for many years by the institution known as Northwestern. The Normal has enriched our lives for generations.”