First and foremost, Danny Annis loved people. His wife, Kimberly, says that wherever he was, he wanted a crowd of friends and family. “He was always moving and going,” she said. “He planned trips and get-togethers. Everything was always buzzing when he was around, even when he was really sick.”
Danny, who died in December, battled cancer during the last years of his life. At the top of his list during that time was spending time with his friends and family. Next on that list was giving back to the place that had given him so much: WKU.
After his death, Kimberly finalized the arrangements her husband had begun, establishing a $100,000 fund to create the John Danny Annis Memorial Scholarship in support of students from Ohio County, where the Annises made their home.
This gift was a logical fit for Danny, a 1972 WKU alumnus, as he spent his career with Aramark Facilities Services, working with colleges and universities all across the country. During his time at WKU, Danny was a member and former president of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, so he enjoyed strong friendships with his fraternity brothers. As a sales executive with Aramark, he also traveled to schools all across the United States, including Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charleston and Oklahoma City.
“In the last six months of his life, we had visitors from all over Kentucky and as far away as California and Florida,” Kimberly said. “They just came to visit with him and to share stories with him.”
The John Danny Annis Memorial Scholarship will be awarded each year to a worthy student in need from Ohio County who wishes to attend WKU. It will be funded to equal full tuition and books after all other scholarships or award monies are deducted. At the direction of the local scholarship committee, the scholarship may be renewed from year to year until the student graduates.
WKU President Gary Ransdell said scholarship support is an important priority for WKU’s New Century of Spirit Campaign.
“To date, 222 new endowed scholarships have been created through the Campaign,” he said. “WKU is committed to providing endowed funds for competitive student scholarships, fellowships and awards in order to recognize the academic achievements of the best and brightest students, and we are also working to increase needs-based scholarships for deserving students. We are indeed grateful that Mrs. Annis has chosen to honor her husband’s memory by establishing the John Danny Annis Memorial Scholarship for Ohio County students.”
Jeremiah Baxley, a freshman from Hartford, Ky., is the first recipient of the John Danny Annis Memorial Scholarship. The civil engineering major hopes to one day work in the corporate world as an environmental engineer.
“The scholarship has helped me a lot financially, and it is one of the major scholarships that I was awarded,” he said. “It helped me pay for my books and tuition so I don’t have to borrow money for school this year.”
Kimberly hopes this scholarship fund will serve as a fitting tribute for her husband.
“A friend who came to Danny’s funeral service and listened to the speakers noted that Danny was Danny wherever he was,” she said. “He was always very close to his brother and two sisters. Though we had no children together, I have a son and daughter, and Danny and I have four grandchildren whom he adored. He was very athletic and loved snow skiing, scuba diving, boating and just any sport. After he retired, he volunteered as a basketball coach at Ohio County. Even when he was too ill to sit on the bench, he still worked with the stats for the team.
“He always loved WKU and was always very, very supportive. We attended football and basketball games, and we always went to Homecoming. I think he wanted to give back some of what WKU had given him.”
Contact: Office of Development, (270) 745-6208.