Gene Parr, ’49, and Joan Parr, ’48 Return the Gift of a Lifetime
Alumni Gene and Joan Parr display an undeniable enthusiasm when discussing Berea. Memories of the campus in the 1940s abound, but the couple focuses most of Berea’s influence in creating purposeful lives.
Reflecting on her husband’s 35 year practice as a successful orthopedic surgeon and her role in managing their family of five, Joan says, “Berea offers a lifestyle that makes a difference. It motivates you to want to do something in life that’s bigger than you. It satisfies a yearning to be all God wants you to be.”
Gene entered medical school after three years at Berea and quickly realized an enormous financial burden as a medical student. Remembering how the College had assisted him in the past, Gene asked Berea’s then-President Francis Hutchins for a lifeline. Hutchins answered the call, discovering a foundation that helped Gene through four years of medical school. Gene says, “Whenever I asked for help, I received it. Berea College was my great facilitator, contributing so much to my subsequent years.”
Gene and Joan began supporting Berea in 1948 with a $1 gift, and over the years they have given generously to the College, both financially and through service. Recently the Parrs established the Francis and Louise Hutchins Scholarship Fund, which assists Bereans facing financial challenges of medical school. Gene served on Berea’s Board of Trustees for six years and Joan worked as a class chairperson on the Alumni Council. Just as the College motivated Gene and Joan to live their dreams, the Parrs’ support helps today’s Berea students to live theirs.
For nearly 60 years, Gene and Joan have shared their lives and resources with their alma mater, reflecting on the optimism Berea instills in its alumni. In Gene’s words, “We have a unity of mind and attitude toward Berea, for the College has done so much for both of us.”