Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 7:00 am
Calloway County High School Class of 1986 graduates, with the help of the Community Foundations of West Kentucky and Murray-Calloway County, are underway selecting this year’s recipient of the Lt. Col. Darin Loftis Scholarship.
Last week, a board made up of some of Loftis’ high school friends and Community Foundation representatives interviewed several candidates for the scholarship, and, as usual, each of them were impressed with what aspiring CCHS graduates had to offer. This will be the second time the Loftis scholarship is awarded. It is set up as a one-time $1,000 gift to a CCHS senior who demonstrates academic excellence, an interest in international affairs and exemplary community service.
April 28, 2015
AUSTIN RAMSEY • Staff Writer
Last year, representatives said, the panel offered two scholarships because the crop of candidates were so talented and worthy. Going above and beyond like that, they said, was exactly the academic spirit that Loftis had.
He graduated from CCHS in 1986 and studied engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. His adventures in life, said close friend Tim Weatherford, led him to become fluent in six different languages, and when looked for housing at Vanderbilt, he chose the language dorms so he could more immerse himself among new languages and cultures.
Later, his wife and he joined the Peace Corps, where he continued to feed an appetite of learning. Once he joined the U.S. Air Force, he worked first in missiles and then a Provisional Reconstruction Team with special forces in Afghanistan. He was only one of three Air Force personnel who spoke the native Pashto language of southern Afghanistan.
Tragically, however, only two months before his last tour overseas was set to end, he was shot and killed in the line of duty. That’s what led men like Weatherford and Mark Thorn, who was also a member of last week’s interview committee, to join with so many of Loftis’ other close friends to develop the scholarship fund with the Community Foundation with a $30,000 five-year goal.A
The generosity of friends, family and those touched by Loftis’ story have far exceeded the goal and West Kentucky Foundation CEO Tony Watkins said they hope to be able to broaden the fund to make it available annually to seniors who stick out among their classes as going above and beyond in the name of education and community service.
After all, said Thorn, there would be no better way to honor Loftis’ memory.
“It was about a legacy of education,” Thorn said. “Darin loved nothing more than learning – accept maybe applying that learning to something useful. I really think that if he knew that his life helped someone else get a leg-up and carry on what he tried to do, that would be something that he wanted.”
“He thought terrorism could only be addressed through education,” he said. “I’ve never met anyone like Darin Loftis. Why this happened, it’s hard to understand. But you know, you can get a purpose out all this. For him, it was education.”