Past Connections to Idaho Help Inspire Future for Veterans
By Louisa Lohrmann
Siblings Kenneth Marshall and Lucille Marshall Hardgrove understand the value of an education, and particularly its importance to a veteran of the United States military. As two of the original donors to Operation Education – the University of Idaho scholarship program for veterans with disabilities – the brother and sister have generously shown their support for military veterans striving to earn a degree.
Idaho natives, the siblings grew up in Pierce, Idaho, where their father ran a local grocery store. Marshall and Hardgrove attended the University of Idaho and have maintained close, lifelong ties to both their alma mater and to the U.S. military.
“Idaho is home,” says Marshall of his feelings for the state, and by extension, for his alma mater. “We usually make one or two trips to the area every year.”
Marshall enrolled at the University of Idaho in 1941, with a major in architecture, but he was drafted before he was able to finish the program. After the war, he finished school with a degree in accounting from Washington State University.
“I am a veteran myself,” says Marshall. “I think that if we can provide the means to educate these veterans, we can not only provide them with the value of a college education, but also allow us to take advantage of some of the valuable skills they have developed.”
He went on to hold several important positions with the U.S. government. He also provided financial council to a number of private corporations, as well as volunteered his accounting services to seniors.
Lucille Pederson Hardgrove graduated from the University of Idaho in 1941 with a degree in theatre arts and English. She strongly advocates for student scholarships, especially for the military.
“The letters I receive from students convince me that what Kenneth and I are doing is truly making a difference,” says Hardgrove.
Hardgrove’s strong ties to the U.S. military are not only through her brother, but also through marriage. She first married Jerard Pederson, also from Pierce, during World War II. After two years at Idaho he joined the Navy. He survived the attack at Pearl Harbor and subsequently completed his engineering degree at Carnegie Tech and then worked with the aircraft engine group at General Electric Corporation. Upon his death in 1982, Lucille honored him by establishing a scholarship for engineering students at the University of Idaho, where he had been encouraged and inspired by one of his professors.
Following Jerard’s death, Lucille married George Hardgrove from Spokane, Wash., an underwater demolition expert during World War II. George also was an engineer at General Electric, and he and Jerard had been good friends and engineering cohorts. George joined Lucille in gifting scholarships at the University of Idaho.
Lucille earned her doctorate at the University of Cincinnati and taught there as a professor of communications for 32 years. She was the first woman instructor of the Dale Carnegie course in the late 1940s and has authored several books, one related to a significant stage actress and the other a breast cancer survival guide for families.
Her passion for the University of Idaho’s Operation Education has led her to donate to the Operation Education program and has been matched equally by General Electric, her late husband’s employer.
Marshall and Hardgrove give to the Operation Education program because it is one more way that they can help fellow veterans who have risked their lives.
“It gives you a lot of satisfaction to get a letter from a student you’re helping,” Marshall says of his support for the program. “I feel that we owe it to the military. I want to know that these kids get an education.”