by Norma Lou Murr
WALSENBURG- John Mall’s parents and his grandmother died in the 1918 flu epidemic when he was eight years old. He and his brother and two sisters lived in orphanages until they reached the age of 14. At the time, the Archbishop of Denver asked World War I veterans in the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital to name an orphan as the beneficiary of their government insurance policies. The insurance gave John Mall just enough money to go to high school and college and train for his career in education.
After he retired, John Mall would ask the high school principal about the seniors who were hoping to go to college. He was particularly interested in a hard working student who needed a little encouragement but wasn’t ranked high enough to win a scholarship. Each year, he would write a small personal check and have it presented to such a student at graduation. He did this the day before he passed away twenty years ago.
The Mall family has continued this tradition in his memory. The 2009 winner is Amanda Lynn Vargas, a young woman who has worked as a waitress and as a summer school aide. Last year, she waited on John Mall’s daughter, Lorraine, and his grandson, Roger’s family. This is a small reminder that we should always try to do a good job and you never know what surprises life has in store. Congratulations and good luck, Amanda!
Norma Lou Murr, on behalf of the Mall family, was proud to present the scholarship to Amanda Lynn Vargas at the 2009 John Mall High School graduation ceremony.