Community Foundation Honors Local Art Steward

Yeeun Cho receiving The Tom Woodward Visual Arts Scholarship. PHOTO BY ROBERT NOLES / THE OBSERVER

Contributed by
Community Foundation of East Alabama


On Monday, May 23, Kathy Woodward, sister of Tom Woodward, and Oliver Gilmore surprised Jack Swarthout with one of Woodward’s framed drawings. This drawing is to be placed in the office of the Community Foundation of East Alabama in his honor and to thank him for creating the scholarship in Woodward’s  memory and his continuance of promoting it.

The Tom Woodward Visual Arts Scholarship Fund was created in 2014 and has awarded nine scholarships to deserving art students.  The fund was the brainchild of Jack Swarthout, a graduate of Opelika High School and a longtime resident of Opelika.  Swarthout alone inspired many of his fellow classmates to honor Woodward  by creating a fund to recognize art students.

Woodward’s art is recognized for mastering graphite pencil drawings.  Woodward endured many challenges during his life after a car accident that left him as a quadriplegic for almost 40 years.  Overcoming the challenges of rehabilitation, he continued pursing his love of art in his drawings.  His work today graces many homes, businesses and public places.  He participated in art exhibits in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and other southern states.

Each year, high school students in the Lee County and the East Alabama area are given the opportunity to apply for the scholarship.  The scholarship fund is managed by the Community Foundation of East Alabama President Barbara Patton.

Swarthout spends many hours contacting schools, school counselors and more, trying to get the scholarship out so many students can learn about this scholarship.  He has helped in numerous ways to keep the scholarship ongoing.  This scholarship would not have been possible without Swarthout’s many efforts.  He has always been a part of the Woodward’s family, and there are no words for them to show their appreciation for all he has done.


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