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Assistant Vice President, Principal Gifts
UI Foundation News
500 Levitt Center for University Advancement
Iowa City IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-3305 or (800) 648-6973

Release: Dec. 7, 2000

Former UI athlete donates $1 million for scholarships

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A generous contribution from a late University of Iowa graduate who was a Hawkeye football player will fund three scholarships for UI students. The University of Iowa Foundation received more than $1 million from the estate of William "Bill" R. Fenton, establishing the Bill and John Fenton Scholarship Funds.

The scholarship endowment, named for Bill Fenton and his late brother, John, will benefit students in the College of Medicine and College of Liberal Arts, and will also support athletic scholarships for students graduating from any Iowa City high school. The Fenton brothers were Iowa City natives who graduated from City High in Iowa City.

Dr. William S. Fenton of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bill R. Fenton's nephew and son of John C. Fenton, said the University of Iowa and Iowa City held a special place in his father's and uncle's hearts. "I know my dad would be very proud to be remembered this way. Even though they moved from Iowa City long ago, Dad and Uncle Bill were really always Hawkeyes," William S. Fenton said. "They believed education was very important. My uncle was always very generous, so it was natural that he would want to honor his alma mater in a way that would benefit so many others."

"The scholarships will be awarded for the first time for the 2001-2002 academic year, and will provide needed scholarship support for students attending the UI," said Dr. Robert P. Kelch, dean of the UI College of Medicine. "Support for students is critical, particularly at a time when universities nationwide are competing for the best students. The Fenton family commitment to the UI will help many students meet the financial requirements of an education. Scholarship aid helps bring students to the University of Iowa and helps them excel at Iowa and beyond."

Born just 11 months apart in 1931 and 1932, the Fenton brothers were a part of Iowa City athletic history. Both went on to graduate from the University of Iowa, Bill in 1954 and John in 1953, and both received M.D. degrees from the UI College of Medicine.

Bill also became a Hawkeye football legend, playing defensive end for the celebrated coach Forest Evashevski, while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. He lettered three years and served as team captain. Bill was also named most valuable player twice and an academic All-American.

In a tribute to Fenton in the Saturday Evening Post titled "The Best Player I Ever Coached," Evashevski said Bill was not the best athlete he had coached, but he was the "finest."

Bill, who graduated 50 years ago from City High this year, also earned first team all-state high school honors in football and basketball and was co-valedictorian of his class. After completing his medical training at the UI, Bill served for five years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and worked 27 years as an emergency room physician at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Santa Clara, Calif.

Bill died of prostate cancer in 1999 at age 66, just five days before he was to be inducted into the City High Hall of Fame. The school honored its graduate posthumously at a ceremony held in October 1999.

John C. Fenton, Bill's older brother, was also a star athlete at City High, lettering in football, basketball and baseball. He also earned a freshman letter in basketball at the UI. John was a cardiologist in Cincinnati, Ohio, until his death in 1980 of leukemia.

Bill was a generous contributor to the College of Medicine, the Hawkeye Arena/Recreation Campaign and other UI programs. He was also a member of The Presidents Club, the University's highest honor club for its most generous contributors.

The Fenton gift is part of the University's planned comprehensive campaign to advance the UI's strategic goals for the years 2000-2005. The campaign, which is in its early stages and for which no final dollar goal has been established, will be conducted under the guidance of the UI Foundation and will raise funds to substantially increase the number of UI merit- and need-based scholarships, as well as the number of endowed faculty chairs and professorships; support eight new educational and research facilities; fund outreach and service programs to benefit individuals, families and communities throughout the state of Iowa; build the UI's endowment; and launch new initiatives in the arts, sciences, business, health care and other fields.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions to all areas of the university. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to generate funds for scholarships, professorships, facilities improvements, equipment purchases, research and other UI initiatives.