Scholarship

THE JAMES & JEANNE ARNESON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND

The James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to graduates of Wilmot High School in Wilmot, South Dakota, who display an aptitude in creative writing by authoring a short story.

The fund was created in memory of my parents, Jim and Jeanne Arneson, who were relentlessly encouraging to me and my three sisters. Mom and Dad were also voracious readers, particularly of fiction.

The connection to Wilmot is that Dad’s grandparents (my great-grandparents), Oscar and Caroline Olson, moved to the United States from Norway and spent many years in Wilmot. They’re buried in Wilmot Cemetery.*

The goal of the James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship is to encourage students from Wilmot to continue writing fiction well beyond high school, to tell the stories that only they can tell. Powerful stories and funny stories and magical stories — stories that the world is waiting for, even if it doesn’t realize it just yet.

HOW TO CONTRIBUTE

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If you’d like to make a tax-deductible (at least in the U.S.) contribution to the James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship Fund, the South Dakota Community Foundation makes it easy.

You can contribute with a credit card online. (If you contribute online, SDCF covers all transaction fees. There’s no cost to you or the fund.)

Or you can contribute by sending a check made payable to “James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship Fund” to:

South Dakota Community Foundation
P.O. Box 296
Pierre, SD 57501

No contribution is too small, and the annual scholarship amount will grow as the fund grows over time.

Thank you!

SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS

Jessica ZempelBeth and I were thrilled to be able to travel to Wilmot in May 2016 to present the first annual award.

Wilmot High School senior Jessica Zempel won a $250 scholarship for her short story “Love, Lust, and Death.” We were also able to meet Jessica’s parents, her English teacher Danielle DeGreef, high school principal Larry Hulscher, and many other wonderful people. Wilmot’s a great community. Huge thanks to novelist Jon McGoran for serving as this year’s judge.

SCHOLARSHIP SELECTION COMMITTEE

Per the rules of establishing the fund with the South Dakota Community Foundation, we’ve set up a Scholarship Selection Committee, which consists of me, Beth, and authors Jen Conley, Merry Jones, and Jon McGoran.

* A BIT MORE ABOUT THE CONNECTION TO WILMOT

My great-grandfather Oscar Olson was a tailor. According to his obituary in the December 5, 1940, edition of the Wilmot Enterprise, he moved to Wilmot with his family in 1914 and worked for the Peterson Clothing Company. The obituary also said, “He later went into the clothing and tailoring business for himself, and served a term or two on the city council.”

When the 1920 U.S. Census was taken, Oscar, Caroline, and their daughter (my grandmother) Solveig all lived on Fourth Street in Wilmot. Oscar was listed as the manager of Gents Furnishing Store, which sold men’s clothing.

Solveig was born in 1905, so in 1920 she was a 15-year-old student in the Wilmot school. Her son (my father), Jim, said she later earned a teaching certificate from Northern Normal and Industrial School (now known as Northern State University) in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I’m trying to locate information regarding where she may have held a teaching position.