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Pembroke couple establishes UNCP scholarships to pay tribute to their mothers

June 30, 2017

A Pembroke couple is honoring their mothers through separate endowed nursing scholarships at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The mothers of Jeff and Susan Maynor spent their lives caring for others. Susan’s mother, Margaret Connell, worked as nurse for 42 years, crisscrossing the country with her military husband.

Lucy MaynorLucy Sanderson Maynor wasn’t a nurse, but preached the importance of education to her five children.

“My thinking was to put this toward nursing because nurses are always helping others and that is the way my mother was,” Jeff said.

The Maynors contributed $50,000 to establish the Margaret S. Connell Endowed Scholarship and the Lucy S. Maynor Endowed Scholarship, each valued at $25,000. Two scholarships will be awarded annually to a UNCP student pursuing nursing.

“There is nothing more precious than the memory of one’s mother,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.

“By endowing these much-needed scholarships, Jeff and Susan honor their mothers’ enduring legacies of compassion while changing lives through education. The university is grateful for their investment in future generations.”

Margaret CConnell and her family were Scottish immigrants. They settled in Troy, N.Y., in 1929. Connell attended nursing school and met her husband, Cornelius, who was in the service. She worked as a licensed practical nurse in the U.S. and overseas when Cornelius was stationed in Portugal, Germany and Florida.

“She loved working with people,” Susan Maynor said. “Back then they didn’t have nursing homes like they have now. The county had a hospital where older people went. They had a doctor and nurses. She worked there for many years.”

Connell moved back to Troy after she retired. When she got up in age, she moved in with Jeff and Susan in Pembroke. She passed away in 2014, at the age of 92.

“Still today, it’s hard for me to talk about her,” Susan said through tears. “She was so special.  She was just a wonderful person. She never met a person that she didn’t have something good to say about. She was a good listener.

“The university has done so much preparing students for careers in nursing,” she said. “The Department of Nursing continues to grow and I feel more people are going to need good nurses, so we are thrilled to be a part of that.

“We are very pleased that this avenue is open to be able to provide this opportunity to a nursing student,” she said. “My mother would be thrilled.”

Alison DeCinti, assistant vice chancellor for advancement at UNCP, said the scholarship gifts from Jeff and Susan are a wonderful tribute to their mothers.

“The caring and compassion of Margaret Connell and Lucy Sanderson Maynor will live on through UNCP nursing students who benefit from these scholarships,” DeCinti said.

A job with AmeriCorps VISTA brought Susan to the Lumbee Regional Development Association office in Pembroke in 1972, where she met Jeff. They were married within months.

Susan taught school and later served as an assistant principal. Jeff retired from the bridge maintenance division with the state Department of Transportation. He now spends his time making outdoor furniture.

Jeff’s four siblings and his father were educators. Wayne Maynor was one of the first to earn a four-year degree from Pembroke State College in 1942. Jeff’s brother, Waltz, taught at UNCP in the 1960s.

His mother dropped out of school in the eighth grade and married Wayne when she was 16. She worked on the family farm near Pembroke. 

“She never finished school,” Jeff said. “That’s why she was always on me and the rest of the children to finish school. She made sure we had an education.”

Jeff said he wanted his mother’s scholarship to help a nursing student as a way to pay homage to his niece, Dr. Cherry Beasley, a long-time nursing professor at UNCP.

“She would be tickled to death,” Jeff said of his mother who lost her battle with cancer in 1968. She was 55.

“My mother helped a lot of people,” he said. “That is why we chose nursing because we know they are going to go on to help others.”