Virdons Establish Scholarships for English and Athletics



Feb. 13, 2007 – Bill and Shirley Shemwell Virdon of Springfield, Mo., have endowed two scholarships at Southeast Missouri State University. 

Shirley Shemwell Virdon, a native of Neelyville, Mo., graduated from Southeast in 1951 with a degree in English. She also discovered a passion for Spanish, which became her minor, while attending the University.  On Nov. 17, 1951, she married Bill Virdon.

Bill Virdon began his career in professional baseball when he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1955.  Virdon was named the National League Rookie of the Year that same season. He was only with the Cardinals a short time before being traded to the Pittsburg Pirates, where he had a long, successful career as a center fielder.  Virdon was a member of the world-champion 1960 Pirates and a Gold Glove winner in 1962. 

In 1972, Virdon became the manager of the Pirates. He spent the next 12 years managing various major league teams. Virdon was named American League Manager of the Year in 1974 with the New York Yankees. He currently works as a special outfield trainer with the Pirates during spring training.

The Bill and Shirley Shemwell Virdon Scholarship goes to a student from Neelyville High School who is majoring in English or Spanish. Recipients of the scholarship must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.

The Bill and Shirley Shemwell Virdon Athletic Scholarship goes to a member of the Southeast baseball team.  If no baseball players qualify in a given year, any student athlete will be eligible to receive the scholarship. The recipient must maintain a GPA of 2.5.  If no one qualifies for either scholarship, the funds will be retained for the following year.

The Virdons have three daughters and seven grandchildren.


A state-assisted institution, Southeast Missouri State University receives only a portion of its funding from state revenue, tuition and auxiliaries. The remainder is raised by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation in the form of private gifts by alumni and friends who believe in bringing students a high-quality education that ensures students experience success in our global society.

Since its founding in 1983, the University Foundation has worked diligently to raise and manage funds for the betterment of Southeast Missouri State University and its students.  The funds support scholarships, financial aid, faculty advancement, technological upgrades and facility improvements.

For more information on the Foundation and ways to support Southeast, visit