The Paul and Melba Wilson Casey Endowed Scholarship has been established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation through the generosity of Melba Wilson Casey of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and her family.
The renewable scholarship will be awarded to a full-time student with a financial need and from the Missouri counties of Wayne, Butler or Pemiscot County. First preference will go to graduates of Greenville High School in Greenville, Missouri, or South Pemiscot High School in Steele, Missouri. Second preference will go to a student pursuing a degree in education. The University Scholarship Committee will select the recipient.
The late Paul Casey grew up in Butler County, Missouri. He attended Bluewater School, a one room schoolhouse, and later boarded with family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, to graduate from Poplar Bluff High School in 1936. Melba Wilson was born near Holland, Missouri, and graduated as valedictorian from Holland High School in 1939.
Both the Casey and Wilson families were from humble circumstances during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Paul and Melba enrolled what was then known as Southeast Missouri State Teachers College as the first generation of their families to pursue higher education. The two met and became engaged while attending Southeast, marrying in 1943 subsequent to Paul’s commissioning as an Ensign and aviator in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Paul graduated from Southeast in 1942 with a Bachelor of Science in agriculture. Melba graduated from Southeast in 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts in commerce and English education. Paul retired after a 38-year career with the General Adjustment Bureau in Paducah, Kentucky. Melba served until retirement as the inaugural director of the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative in Murray, Kentucky.
Paul and Melba raised five children, each of whom have pursued their careers in the field of education: Rita Casey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University; Shaun Casey, director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University’s Edmund E. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Neil Casey, retired band director of Cape Central High School; the late Karen Casey, former executive director of the Boulder Valley Education Association; and the late Michael Casey, former professor of communication at Pepperdine University.
The educational achievement of Paul and Melba at Southeast not only changed their lives but opened generational opportunities to their children and grandchildren.