James and Cleata Reynolds, who started their careers in education in DeKalb County in 1950, have donated $631,495.00 to the Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) Foundation. This generous donation establishes the James G. and Cleata D. Reynolds Memorial Scholarship for qualifying Northeast students pursing a degree in education.
James was drafted into World War II immediately after graduating from Gaylesville High School. He served in the German Theater of War where he was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded. After the war he graduated from Auburn University, and he began teaching agricultural business at Sylvania School.
Cleata graduated from DeKalb County High School in Fort Payne, Alabama. She later graduated from Jacksonville State University and was hired as an elementary teacher at Sylvania School. Cleata and James were married in May of 1950 at Trinity United Methodist Church (Burnt Church).
Later, James accepted a position as vice president of Containers Incorporated in Lebanon, Tennessee. Cleata taught second grade in Lebanon. She was an excellent teacher and devoted her life to her classroom. Eventually, James took a job in the Tennessee Department of Education as the supervisor of vocational programs. They spent 42 years in Lebanon. Ultimately, they bought a house in Rainsville where they spent many weekends and holidays. During this time, they attended many NACC Theater productions and became avid fans.
Their niece, Tonie Niblett, recalls, “I was employed at Northeast Alabama Community College for many years. On many occasions at family gatherings, Cleata remarked to me that she intended to make a gift to “my” school. On November 19, 2020, she passed away, and I was appointed to handle her estate. After sorting through her documents, I was gratified to learn that she had indeed left “my” school a gift.”
Northeast President David Campbell stated, “This is the largest cash donation that Northeast has ever received, and we are thrilled to have it. We will use these funds for the wishes and intentions of Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds. This scholarship fund will be known as the James G. and Cleata D. Reynolds Memorial Fund. We anticipate that this generous gift will help students for years to come.”
Ms. Niblett went on to say, “Often Cleata and James would tell us how fortunate we in this area were to have such a good school as Northeast. In the early days of their education, due to the distance and scarcity of transportation, a college degree was very difficult for them to obtain.”
Ms. Niblett added, “My aunt was quite talented as an artist and spent many hours in art classes and in painting beautiful pictures. James was her greatest supporter in her art. Since they had no children, her paintings have been gifted to her nieces and nephews, who treasure them greatly.”
The James G. and Cleata D. Memorial Scholarship will be managed by the NACC Foundation, which exists to support scholarships for students and to support the mission of the College. The Foundation was organized and incorporated in 2002 for the purpose of stimulating voluntary private support from alumni, parents, friends, corporations, foundations, and others for the benefit of the College.
“This is a very generous donation,” stated Heather Rice, NACC Development Director. “This scholarship will help pave the way for so many NACC students on their career path to be great educators for future generations.”
Through the generosity of donors such as the Reynolds, the NACC Foundation assists students in achieving their educational goals by providing financial assistance. Since 2011, the NACC Foundation has provided scholarships to 279 students totaling $430,000.
For more information about financing scholarships through major gifts and estate giving, please contact Heather Rice at 256.638.4418 ext. 2301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students wishing to apply for the James G. and Cleata D. Memorial Scholarship or other NACC scholarships may do so by completing the online application at www.nacc.edu.