New $20K scholarship honors former Northwood Tech educators

Bruce W. Nelson, Colleen O’Leary Nelson, and Kim Pearson, Advancement Director and Foundation...
Bruce W. Nelson, Colleen O’Leary Nelson, and Kim Pearson, Advancement Director and Foundation Executive Director at Northwood Technical College(Northern News Now)
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 3:32 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - On Tuesday, a new scholarship was announced for Northwood Technical College’s Ashland campus.

In honor of dedicated lifelong educators James (Jim) and Mildred (Milly) O’Leary, their daughter Colleen O’Leary Nelson, and her husband Bruce W. Nelson, have donated $20,000 to the Northwood Tech Foundation.

The donation will be used to establish the O’Leary Scholarship.

This scholarship is open to women enrolled in a business program at the Ashland campus.

Jim O’Leary passed away in November 2019, at the age of 87.

He started his teaching career at Northland College in the late 1950′s and he is recognized at the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame as coach of the first college hockey team in the state.

Jim began teaching at Northwood Tech in 1977 and retired there in 1995.

Their daughter Colleen said, he retired “more than once” but kept returning upon request to teach business, accounting, or any other courses the college asked him to.

“Everybody knew and loved him,” said Colleen. “He gave his students – many of them women – the courage to complete their degree and pursue a career. He changed their lives.”

Milly O’Leary passed away in April of 2022.

She also taught for Northland College in Ashland prior to joining the staff at Northwood Tech, teaching at both the Superior and Ashland campuses. She taught human relations courses, primarily to students enrolled in the Nursing program.

“She helped with their resumes, their interview and communication skills, anything they needed,” explained Colleen. “She was a force for those who needed her strength.”

Through this scholarship, Colleen and Bruce will continue the legacy of Jim and Milly, helping to positively affect the lives of students for the life of the foundation.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the O’Leary Scholarship can donate online, by mail to Northwood Tech Foundation, 1900 College Drive, Rice Lake, WI 54868, or by calling 715-731-1265.