His memory lives on in a scholarship rewarding students who carry those same traits.
The third annual Bernard Gaffney Scholarship was given out to senior Ben Bachran at the Houghton High School awards banquet Thursday night.
Gaffney, a native of Howell, Mich., grew up on a farm and planned to continue on that course. But a conversation with a neighbor led him to enroll in the Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University). His college years were delayed by a stretch as a Navy pilot in World War I. He worked his way through school as a mail clerk and library janitor.
He came in the Keweenaw in 1929, serving as principal of the John A. Doelle Agricultural School in Tapiola. After eight years, he became principal of Houghton High School, moving up to district superintendent in 1961.
“The guy was really a legend,” said Barb Rose, executive director of the Keweenaw Community Foundation, which administers the grant. “Even when I taught there in 1972, they still talked about him.”
Gaffney’s son, Edward Gaffney, came up with the idea for the endowment.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “And I think he deserved it. He spent most of his life up there in the school system, and he always had the welfare of the kids in mind. He spent a lot of time on extra activities trying to help kids out. I think that scholarship is the sort of thing he would have liked to have as a legacy.”
The amount of money available has grown each year, from $4,000 in its first year to $4,600 to $5,000.
The first year’s recipient, Danielle Teter, in addition to being a talented singer, had a grade-point average near 4.0, plenty of activities, and took care of her parents. Without the scholarship, Rose said, she may not have had the money to go on to college. Teter is now a student at Northern Michigan University.
“People always fall through the cracks somehow,” Rose said. “This is a way to help all the children who just haven’t gotten one of those big scholarships or grants.”
Among Bachran’s achievements were serving as president of Houghton’s senior class, volunteering with Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly, and participating in sports ranging from cross country to track.
“My mom helped me out a lot, and it was just fun being involved in all these things,” he said. “It kept me busy.”
Bachran, the son of Rachelle and Lance Bachran, will go to Williamette University in Salem, Ore., where he plans to major in business and minor in sports management. After college, he hopes to open a restaurant.
He appreciates the scholarship.
“It feels great ... my mom and I have worked pretty hard toward getting money for college,” he said. “It’s nice to be rewarded.”
Garrett Neese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daily Mining Gazette/Garrett Neese
Barb Rose, executive director of the Keweenaw Community Foundation, presents the Gaffney Scholarship award to Houghton High School senior Ben Bachran Thursday. The scholarship is named for Bernard Gaffney, a longtime principal and superintendent with the district.