Estate Gift Establishes Charles and Lillian Ojanen Thomas Scholarship

Thomas photo

Thanks to a $450,000 gift from the estate of Charles Clay Thomas, of Lexington, future generations of Eastern Kentucky University students will be able to achieve their educational dreams.

The estate gift to the EKU Foundation enabled the establishment of the Charles and Lillian Ojanen Thomas Scholarship at the University.

Mr. Thomas, a native of Winchester, passed away in 2011. He was the husband of Lillian Ojanen Thomas, who passed away in 2005. After graduating from Winchester High School in 1943, Mr. Thomas served in World War II as a corporal with the United States Marine Corps, Sixth Marine Division, in Okinawa and China. After returning from active military service, he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1949, adding a master’s degree in education in 1963.

Mr. Thomas worked as an internal auditor with JCPenney and the University of Kentucky, and was vice president and controller for WLEX-TV. Mrs. Thomas was a homemaker. The Thomases, who did not have any children, decided to leave 100 percent of their estate to charity, in particular public higher educational institutions in Kentucky.

“Eastern is extremely grateful that our neediest students will be the immediate and lasting beneficiaries of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas’s tremendously generous and transformative scholarship gift as we continue to pursue putting students first in everything we do,” said Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations at EKU. “The Thomas scholarship endowment will allow the recipients the financial freedom to achieve their academic dream of obtaining a college degree, which in turn will open doors and make such an impactful difference for the individual recipients, their future families and communities for many generations.” 

In selecting recipients of the Thomas Scholarship, preference will be given, according to the couple’s wishes, to EKU students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree who have been orphaned, have grown up in one or more foster homes, or are otherwise underprivileged and, in each case, lack the financial means to pursue a degree.

For more information about opportunities to help students at EKU, visit, e-mail giving@eku.eduor call 859-622-1583.

Published on March 17, 2015

Quick Links