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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Drury University Holds Ceremony, Bust Dedication to Honor the Late David Lewis

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? It’s an age-old question that often gets a variety of answers. For Ozarks native David Lewis, millions have been pledged on his behalf to area schools. KSMU’s Julie Greene attended a dedication ceremony Tuesday and has this report.

“It will, of course, affect many students and is already impacting students today at Drury. But the David Lewis gift is one that will also impact generations, and for that, we are extremely grateful,” said Dr. Manuel.

Drury University President Dr. David Manuel addressed a crowd of about 25 people inside a small room at Bay Hall as part of a ceremony honoring Lewis’ contribution of over $1.15 million in scholarships. The event included the unveiling of a nearly 400 pound bust of Lewis.

Lewis, who died in 2009 after a battle with cancer, was a former Drury University student who was admitted to the school at age 16. He attended Drury on a scholarship and ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education in 1953.

Lewis did not come from a wealthy family nor did he earn his money by owning a successful company. Instead, he made his living by working at the Sears in Springfield for almost 40 years, farming and raising cattle on his family’s farm and by saving and investing his money wisely.

“It’s just special because he didn’t just have money to just ‘Oh, I’m going to give this money to a person or a charity or something.’ He built it from himself, and he had that work ethic that is just to be admired, and just out of the goodness of his heart, he just gave it to people,” Myers said. 

That’s Matt Myers, a freshman at Drury University who is one of four students benefiting from the Lewis Scholarship. He was among those who attended the event. Myers spoke about the impact the scholarship has had on his life.

“I went from not knowing if I would be able to afford college to being like ‘I think I can do this’ because I was getting this scholarship, I had academic scholarships. It’s just a big weight off my shoulders, just not having to pay for everything,” Myers said.

The bust presented at Drury on Tuesday is one of three that have been dedicated throughout the region. The others being at College of the Ozarks and Ozarks Technical Community College--Table Rock, where Lewis has also made large contributions.

The bronze bust sits atop a podium, standing five and a half feet tall. A quote from Lewis below the bust reads, “If you haven’t helped anyone as you go along you haven’t really accomplished your mission in life.”