By Joe Southern
Christmas came early for the students of Sealy ISD as a $2.8 million donation was made to the Sealy Scholarship Endowment Fund.
“We didn’t know we were getting anything at all,” said Bill Burttschell, president of the fund.
The donation comes from Darryl Randerson through the Darryl Randerson Trust, a part of the Agnese S. Randerson Estate.
Randerson, 83, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, said he and his mother used to talk about ways to honor her parents, Joe and Elizabeth Schier, who first purchased a 1,000-acre tract near Sealy back in 1920.
“We talked about how nice it would be to honor my grandparents by donating money to the school district,” he said.
The money comes from the sale of land on the west side of Sealy not far from where the Walmart Distribution Center is located.
“My grandfather bought the land that we sold a couple years ago,” Randerson said.
Burttschell said he thinks this is the largest charitable donation made to any foundation in Sealy, certainly the endowment fund.
“For a town of Sealy’s size, they don’t realize this size of donation dollars,” he said.
Sealy Scholarship Endowment Fund Board Member Leroy Zapalac, a founding member of the fund board, said he was ecstatic when he heard about the donation.
“This will benefit the citizens of Sealy from an educational standpoint,” he said.
He said the money raised by the fund is used to provide scholarships for graduating seniors from Sealy High School.
“There could be programs that maybe the school board can’t do but we can help,” Zapalac said.
Randerson said that in addition to farming, his grandfather, Joe Schier, was an engineer on the Cane Belt Railroad, which ran near the property. In later years Schier leased out the land. Agnese Randerson became the sole heir to the land after her parents passed, and Randerson inherited it when Agnese passed in 2013, just months shy of her 100th birthday. Randerson, who has a doctorate from Texas A&M and used to work for the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1960s, said he wanted to do the donation while he was still alive to see it put to good use.
“I was pleased to do it,” he said.
Zapalac said the Sealy Scholarship Endowment Fund was started in 1989 with a $1,000 donation by David and Cheryl Ellerbe.
“Various people have made donations through the years,” Burttschell said. “The biggest one before this came from the Boyd Estate about seven or eight years ago and that was $75,000.”
Prior to the Randerson donation, the fund had $225,000 in it.
“All this started because Agnese went to school here and graduated from Sealy High school,” Burttschell said.
He said the fund traditionally gives between $15,000 and $20,000 worth of scholarships to graduating seniors in amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000.
“We’ll be glad to look at other educational and vocational needs the school has,” Burttschell said. “This gives us so much more flexibility.”
The Sealy Scholarship Endowment Fund board consists of Zapalac, Burttschell, Brad Burttschell, Gary Pless, Sealy ISD Board of Trustees President Ryan Reichardt, Superintendent Bryan Hallmark, SHS Principal Megan Oliver, and Athletic Director Shane Mobley.