DANSVILLE — Last year, six local Legions gathered to honor a fallen hero’s memory by putting together a scholarship in her honor.
The Second Annual Staff Sgt. Alexandria Gleason-Morrow Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser was held at the Dansville American Legion on Sunday, April 28.
Livingston County students and adults will have an opportunity to apply for two different scholarships in her name. One scholarship is for a graduating senior who wants higher education in college or a trade school. The other is for an adult who wants to go back to higher education or enhance their trade.
“Alex always had an intense love for learning. The American Legion family wanted to have a way to remember her. We thought this would be the best way,” said Deborah Herrmann, Alex’s grandma. “We thought it would be nice to open up the scholarship for trade students, since we found out there are not a lot of opportunities for them to get scholarships.”
Herrmann said they wanted one for non-traditional students as well, so that students who need to go back to college or a trade school have a chance.
“It's for those who have been out of school for a long period of time, or had to work after high school since they couldn’t afford college. We wanted them to have a chance for a scholarship too. We will offer $1,000 for each scholarship. As the years go by we want them to grow,” she said. “It is my ultimate goal to have multiple scholarships for the schools in Livingston County.”
Herrmann said this is the Legion’s way of giving back, and thanking Alex for her service.
“Alex never did this for the fame or glory,” she said. “She would love the idea of helping students and other people. She was always about education. Dansville was Alex’s home, and she would be glad we are doing this here.”
Bill Morgan, Springwater American Legion Post Commander, donated $1,000 to the scholarship, and plans on hanging an American flag artwork in Alex’s honor at the Legion. Alex has a special place at the Springwater American Legion since it is the place she grew up learning the meaning of patriotism.
Stephanie (Gleason) Shirley, Alex’s mother, felt very touched by the community support of the scholarship.
“It is a nice way to carry her memory and help other kids and adults with education,” she said. “It is a nice way to keep her memory alive. She would be very proud of her little brother too, since he made some of the art at Kyle Tracy’s shop. Everyone has been involved with this.”
Shirley said the whole community has been very amazing.
Dan Ashley, Alex’s childhood friend, said he misses her every single day.
“I have known Alex since we were in grade school together. We met when she moved to Dansville,” he said. “One of the things we always did once we got to our senior year was Denny’s every Saturday night. I was the first of our friends to get a car, so I would drive us down to Denny’s in my Ford Escort every Saturday night. It was just me, Alex, Farmer, and Mara.”
Ashley said Alex was always very caring and supportive.
“I am here to support her and the cause. She cared about everyone, and always had a big heart,” he said. “She is the reason I make the best of the moment I have with people. You never know when it will be the last time you see or talk to that person. The last time we saw Alex was after graduation.”
Ashley said Alex had told them all their senior year she planned on joining the Air Force. They all shared moments outside of school working at Arby’s. They had their Saturday nights at Denny’s. Most of all they had a unique friendship that will never be forgotten.
Luanna Gilbert, Dansville Ladies Legion Auxiliary President, said Stephanie is one of her best friends.
“I feel very proud to be part of this with Stephanie. She is one of my best friends. I knew Alex since she was a little girl. Stephanie and I worked at Tops together when Alex was a child,” she said. “I believe this is a great way to honor Alex’s memory.”