Kiwanis: Family Scholarships Honor Special People

Los Alamos Kiwanis Club

All of the family scholarships awarded by the Los Alamos Kiwanis Club honor the memories of very special people—but they also emphasize slightly different qualities in students.

Dennis Gill, 2019 chairman of the Kiwanis Scholarship Committee, noted that all of the scholarship applicants accepted by Kiwanis must be not only good scholars but also very involved in community service. Once the applications from these students are in hand, the committee considers all of the applicants, rates them, and then awards the family-funded scholarships as well as the Kiwanis-funded scholarships to students who meet the appropriate requirements.

How does a family arrange for the establishment of a family-funded scholarship administered by Kiwanis? Gill said, “They donate a sum of money to the Los Alamos Kiwanis Foundation, ask Kiwanis to administer the scholarship, and tell us if they want some area emphasized (such as teaching, nursing, athletics, or citizenship). We will always insist that community service be the first criterion.”

The Lou and Lee Pierotti Scholarship goes to a good student who is also an athlete—because Lou Pierotti founded and played third base for Pierotti’s Clowns, the amateur softball team that raised $200,000 for charity, and his wife, Lee, was a bowler, a tennis player, and a golfer who served as first president of the Los Alamos Lassie League for girls playing softball. The Pierottis also ran a restaurant and soda bar, and they had a floral shop in town for many years. Their children no longer live in Los Alamos County, but they still care deeply for the community.

The Stoddard Scholarships

The Stephen Stoddard Scholarships (two this year) are named for a remarkable man. Stoddard, born in Everett, Wash., joined the Army Specialized Training Program in July 1943. He was reassigned to Southampton, England, in September 1944.

He was with the infantrymen who landed in Cherbourg after D Day, and he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He reached the Rhine before he was wounded, evacuated to Paris, and sent back to England. The war ended before he recovered sufficiently to return to his unit.

After the war, he served in Czechoslovakia, went on to Austria, and even met some of the Russians at the Elbe River in 1945.

Discharged on March 31, 1946, he came home and took advantage of the GI Bill, earning a degree in ceramic engineering from the University of Illinois. He went to work for the Coors Porcelain Co., but in the Sputnik era, he said later, people began “talking about the future of nuclear engineering,” and he was intrigued. He applied to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (now Los Alamos National Laboratory), was hired, and arrived in October 1952.

He and his first wife, Joann, settled into a Sundt Apartment on Trinity, and he went to work for CMB-6. In the years that followed, they had two children and lived in numerous homes in Los Alamos.

Joann died; he eventually married his second wife, Barbara; and they settled into a home on Trinity Drive in Western Area.

An active Republican, he served as chairman of the committee that did prioritization when the government sold the local houses. He was also chairman of the transition committee on police and fire.

In 1956, he ran successfully for justice of the peace. He was re-elected twice. Later, after a reorganization of the courts in New Mexico, he also served as a municipal judge. He recalled later that he “married dozens of people.”

He served on the County Commission that passed the County Charter in use today.

He served as the president of the American Ceramic Society in the 1970s.

And in 1980, when he retired from the laboratory, he ran successfully for the State Senate, and was re-elected twice, serving until reapportionment “effectively disenfranchised Los Alamos” in 1992. He said later that he won passage of 91 bills of importance during his three terms in the Senate

After he left the Senate, he continued to be very active in the Republican Party, and he was involved in numerous local organizations.

He served as the chairman of the Los Alamos County 50th Anniversary Committee in 1999.

And he was a Kiwanis member for decades.

He died in 2013, but before that, he had an important conversation with his wife Barbara, who was—and is—a member of Kiwanis also.

In a recent interview, she noted that before he died, “He needed caretakers.” She and Steve talked about the importance in society of such caretakers, and of nurses, and of school teachers.

“I have teachers in my family,” she noted, “and my daughter is a registered nurse.” Steve “appreciated the help he got from (medical) providers”; he was aware of the shortage of medical providers and teachers; and he wanted to do something to help people go into those essential fields.

Barbara and Steve agreed, together, that there would be Stoddard Scholarships, funded by the family and handled by Kiwanis. And she asked that the students chosen have an interest in teaching and/or nursing.

“It’s really important for me,” she said.

The Jeannette O. Wallace Scholarship

Jeannette O. Wallace was also a long-time Kiwanis member, a Republican, and a remarkable person.

She and her husband, Terry Wallace (Sr.), had three sons and twin daughters. During the years when their children were growing up (and her husband was high up in the lab’s leadership), she was a dedicated volunteer in scouting and in the schools. However, when the twins finished high school and headed for college, she told the Republican Party that she would like to volunteer, and the party surprised her by asking her to run for County Council.

She ran and won. She lost when she ran for re-election, but she stayed deeply involved in county government, ran again, won, and, eventually, served as chairwoman.

Subsequently, she ran successfully for State House of Representatives; won; was re-elected several times, serving on the highly influential House Finance Committee; and, after 22 years of state service, died in office in April 2011.

Her oldest son, Terry Wallace, Jr., a geoscientist, served as the laboratory director for several years before the lab changed contractors in 2018. He still lives in Los Alamos County and serves as director emeritus at LANL. In a recent telephone interview, when he was asked how she would like to be remembered, he said she was uncomfortable talking about her many successes.

However, he vividly remembered her dedication to the United Methodist Church in White Rock; her service in the Scouts and the schools; her work on the County Council; and her service in the Legislature.

“She really believed in serving her district” he said, “from Algodones to Jemez Springs (as well as Los Alamos).” And, in the Legislature, instead of adopting partisanship, she built bridges to the Democratic Speaker of the House so that they could accomplish good things together.

She always tried to report to Los Alamos County at the end of each legislative session, speaking at Kiwanis meetings as well as other gatherings.

Her son Terry said that after she died, he and his surviving brother Tim (also a geoscientist) and his sisters “decided that the monies in her political accounts (for re-election) would be best used to endow a scholarship for a graduating senior for Los Alamos High School.”

He said, “My mother was a committed Kiwanis member and very much believed in the service model that is the cornerstone of Kiwanis (and Key Club, of which I was a member some 45 years ago). I thought it would be best to have Kiwanis award/steward the Jeannette O. Wallace Scholarship.”

He commented, “The goal of the scholarship is rewarding and promoting citizenship. I certainly want to see strong scholarship, but it is extremely important that the recipient is committed to community and services —just as my mother was. Kiwanis is perfect for this.”

He added, “All of the recipients have been wonderful examples of community citizens. I am very happy and proud of the scholarship and all the recipients. I am sure my mother would be also.”