Don Kline’s post-high school plans were to work on the railroad. When he wasn’t helping on the Huntington County farm where he grew up, he was practicing his fastball.
“I was more interested in baseball than academics in high school,” Don said.
In adjacent Allen County, Mary Alice Chupp, a year younger than Don, was preparing herself to be a secretary.
“I took shorthand in high school, not advanced math,” said Mary Alice, who later became Mary Alice Kline when she married Don in 1961.
In Proverbs 16:9, it says: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (NIV).
Don (’60) and Mary Alice (’61) found that to be true when they were both offered college scholarships and the chance to attend Huntington — an opportunity they would not have otherwise had.
Don’s detour from railroad work began when the Union High School senior sat for a statewide exam. The test offered high-scoring students scholarships, but the scholarship isn’t what spurred him to take the exam.
“I basically took the test to get out of school for a day,” he admits. Unexpectedly, “I scored high enough on the test that I got a scholarship.” He then enrolled in Huntington College, wasting no time to make his mark when he pitched a no-hitter in his first game for the Foresters.
Once at Huntington, he found his calling in life. It all started one day in Dr. Carl Zurcher’s speech class when Don answered a question.
“I made a terrible grammatical error. The whole class laughed. I went home and took the English (grammar) books out of the closet and devoured them,” he said.
English became his major. When he needed an additional course his junior year, the college catalog fell open to French, which became his minor and the subject he would teach at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., for 29 years of his 33-year teaching career.
The change in life’s direction for Mary Alice was no less dramatic. In her senior year at Lafayette Central High School (later Homestead), Principal Charles McCreery announced she was the class valedictorian.
“I didn’t even know what a valedictorian was,” Mary Alice recalls. But the honor led to a four-year scholarship at Huntington, where she majored in business, and then to a career in teaching where she spent all but three of her 30 years at Huntington North High School.
Don and Mary Alice thrived at Huntington. He participated in many plays, and she was chosen as the 1958 homecoming queen, with campaign manager Don at her side.
Their studies at Huntington eventually led to positions at the college where Mary Alice taught business for a time and served on the alumni board. Also, Don was the alumni director from 1964-1970, doubling as the admissions director from 1966-1970.
Looking back at the paths their lives took, Mary Alice says, “It all fell into place … the way it was supposed to.”
Without the scholarship, Don added, “Life would have been quite different. It was God’s intervening.”
Today, 91 percent of students at Huntington University are receiving financial assistance, and the need is ever-growing. To that end, the university has set a goal of increasing the endowment by $2 million and receiving deferred giving commitments of $5 million through Together: The Campaign for Huntington University.
There are various ways to give, such as:
Designated endowment: Funds designated for a scholarship or other specific purpose.
Faculty chair: A $1 million investment will endow a faculty chair in the academic area of your choice and enable HU to attract and retain world-class scholars.
General endowment: Funds invested and earnings used for operational needs.