I’m a ranch kid who grew up in the south-eastern corner of Oregon. People ask me all the time where I’m from and my natural response is “Southern Oregon.” They then usually start guessing places – Ashland? Medford? Grants Pass? No, keep going. At this point I can see they are persistent to so I help them out by saying, “Lakeview – it’s east of Klamath Falls.” That’s when they pause – “Whoa, I didn’t know there was anything east of Klamath Falls.” Well there is – and for about 2,000 of us it’s where we are proud to call home, and where the most incredible man’s spirit lives on through his impact on me and others with a similar story.
For any kid entering high school in Lake County (this means either at Lakeview High or Paisley High), we have our eye on the prize that is the Bernard Daly Educational Fund. Dr. Daly was an amazing man – someone who achieved so much and gave even more, that he almost seems like a figment of our imagination. And yet, he was very much real – with very real money – that he entrusted to the youth of Lake County upon his death.
In my graduating class of 1996, we had 74 students – of those 15 received the Daly Fund. Each one of us receiving a scholarship essentially had our four years of tuition paid for at an Oregon university. That is incredible – and nearly unheard of. Today more than 2,000 educations have been earned thanks to Dr. Daly, and I’d like to believe just as many successful careers born.
While Dr. Daly and the Daly Fund is known by all in Lakeview, like the town itself, the story of the man and his mission is a well-kept secret. This week an article came out sharing that Yale University President Peter Salovey delivered the keynote address at PromiseNet 2014, hosted by Cities of Promise – an organization geared at creating opportunities for the youth of cities big and small – and as part recounted the 100-year old story of Dr. Daly, his promise and his impact of thousands of hard working, wide-eyed Lake County ranch kids, just like me. A bit of well-deserved PR for this incredible story and the man who made it happen.