Barwick Family Scholarship honors century-old OU connections

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Charles F. Barwick

John S. Barwick
Charles F. Barwick

John S. Barwick
A family legacy that has been intertwined with that of the University of Oklahoma for a century is being honored through a new scholarship fund at the OU Foundation.

The Barwick Family Scholarship benefits OU freshmen who attended Guthrie High School. The fund was established with a nearly $750,000 gift from the family, whose connection to OU stretches back to the 1920s.

The scholarship fund originally was placed at Guthrie’s Scottish Rite Charitable and Educational Foundation by brothers John S. and Charles F. Barwick, who were natives of Guthrie and OU alumni. John received a bachelor’s in geological engineering in 1923 at age 19 and Charles earned both a bachelor’s of journalism in 1926 and a master’s of political science in 1928. John became a petroleum engineer in the United States and Chile, while Charles earned a doctoral degree from George Washington University and worked for the IRS in Dallas.

“Dad and Uncle Charles talked about setting up a scholarship for Guthrie students all of the time,” said John’s daughter, Elizabeth Barwick Ball. “They loved their hometown and high school and thought that people needed the help.”

Many of the brothers’ family members also attended OU, including Ball, who earned a 1969 master’s in Spanish, and her husband, Rex Harrison Ball, who holds a 1965 bachelor’s of history. Rex came to OU on a scholarship from the OU swim team, which won four Big Eight championships during his tenure. He went on to earn a doctoral degree from Harvard University. The couple’s daughter, Kristen M. Ball, is a 1997 OU graduate with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Elizabeth said that her father enjoyed being involved with the scholarship selection process.

“Dad would go to Guthrie and interview the students in person. It gave him a great deal of pleasure,” she said, adding that she took up the interview mantle following her father’s 2004 death at the age of 100. “You couldn’t help but enjoy being involved after you had a dad like mine who talked about it so much.” Ball credited Guthrie native and OU graduate Janna Pierson with coordinating the interviews and ensuring that local students and administrators knew of the opportunity.

“The Barwick Family Scholarship contributes to our students’ success by reducing their financial burden, which allows them to focus on learning, inspires their confidence, and enables their dreams of a college education to become a reality,” said Trish Koonce of OU Enrollment and Student Financial Services. “The Barwick Family’s gift will continue to positively impact generations to come.”

The Balls also have established an estate plan to support OU history students and to provide graduate fellowships in Spanish. “I felt so lucky to be at OU, and Betty and I want to give something back,” Rex Ball said. “We’re going to continue the family tradition.”