Cumberland County native establishes endowment to help Lindsey Wilson College nursing students

PICTURED: Sharon and Lonnie Willen present Director of LWC Nursing Emiley Button and LWC President William T. Luckey Jr., a check from the Hall Abston Estate to establish the Howard Abston Memorial Endowment Scholarship. The need- and merit-based scholarship will soon help Lindsey Wilson College nursing students from Cumberland and Clinton counties. The $607,450 donation marks the second-largest estate gift in Lindsey Wilson College history. 

COLUMBIA, KY. – For Cumberland County native Hall Abston there was no better way to honor his late brother than to invest in the next generation of Lindsey Wilson College nursing students.  

“The nursing profession held a special place in the hearts of the Abston brothers,” said Sharon Willen who is co-executor of the Abston estate with her husband, Lonnie. “They loved their nurses and received such good care, that’s why they wanted to help people in that field.” 

When Hall’s brother Howard passed away, he knew he wanted to do something meaningful in his honor. Hall met with First & Farmers National Bank President Vickie Wells in Burkesville, Kentucky, to discuss how to properly establish an endowment fund in his brother’s memory. Wells assisted Hall by putting him in touch with the development team at LWC.

“Ms. Wells at First & Farmers National Bank told Hall that an endowed scholarship would be a great thing”, said Sharon and Lonnies’s son, Lannie Willen. “And after a few meetings with Brady Button, who was then the Director of Major Gifts at Lindsey Wilson, Hall decided that LWC would be the perfect place to assist nursing students with scholarship support.”

Hall established the Howard Abston Memorial Endowment Scholarship, a merit- and need-based scholarship to benefit LWC nursing students from Cumberland and Clinton Counties. The gift is the second-largest estate gift in LWC’s 118-year history. 

“In the last years of his life Howard had really bad rheumatoid arthritis,” said Lannie. “What those nurses did for him made a big impact.”

The Willens, who are longtime family friends of the Abston brothers, have played an important role in helping to fulfill Hall’s wishes. 

“The Abstons were crop and hog farmers together in Cumberland County for years,” said Lannie. “They lived in a very frugal way. I would often go to Howard for advice because he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever met and was pretty much self-taught by all the books and farm journals he read.”

Sharon also spoke of the generous character of the Abston brothers.

“They were so good to my kids,” Sharon said. “They were always bringing them things and anytime there was something interesting happening like a solar eclipse or whatever, they’d bring the kids the proper equipment to view it when most of the time I wasn’t even aware that stuff was happening. They always did things like that.”

LWC Vice President for Development Kevin Thompson said this estate gift is an incredible boost to future nursing students.

“This is a phenomenal gift that will help change lives in Cumberland and Clinton counties for generations of students attending Lindsey Wilson College,” said Thompson.

The Howard Abston Memorial Endowment Scholarship will begin for Cumberland and Clinton County nursing students in the spring of 2023. If you’d like more information on the scholarship, contact the LWC development office at 270-384-8400.


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