Melvin Sturm, a 1944 alumnus of UT, has strong feelings for both his alma mater and the people of Campbell County, where he went to public school.
That affection continues to pay dividends for both in the form of the Sturm Memorial Scholarship set up by his family in honor of their parents and to help graduates of Campbell County and Jellico High Schools to attend UT.
“I love Tennessee. The state, the people, the university,” said Sturm. “It’s a very special place, and it’s important to me to see it succeed.”
Sturm and his siblings set up the scholarship, now in its 25th year, in honor of their parents, Louis Henry Sturm and Beatrice Cawn Sturm.
After leaving New York City during the worldwide flu epidemic in 1917, the pair eventually settled in Campbell County.
Melvin attended LaFollette High School before coming to UT and majoring in mechanical engineering.
Following his time in the military—he and his three brothers all served in the Navy—Sturm set about making a life for himself when fate intervened.
His father, who had recently opened a business in Jellico, was killed by a drunk driver while chaperoning a pair of students to and from an opera concert in Knoxville.
Sturm returned to his native county intending to close down the business, but two things changed his mind: first, the business began to turn a profit; second, he noticed that the county’s young people rarely stuck around after graduation.
“They just had no opportunities here,” said Sturm. “That was something I knew would need to change.”
As part of his pride in the town and efforts to improve the prospects for the people of Jellico, Sturm embarked on a flurry of civic activity.
He helped form a chamber of commerce, served as president of the Kiwanis chapter, the utility board, the city council, as finance commissioner, and finally as mayor. All before he turned 30.
The scholarship is the most recent sign of the commitment to give back.
Current UT students Joseph Perkins from Jellico High School and Andrew Primm and Hagan Reed from Campbell County High School are the most recent beneficiaries of the scholarship.
Continuing a tradition he started in 2010, Sturm recently met with two of the recipients, treating them to lunch in Knoxville and swapping stories about Campbell County.
David Goddard (865-974-0683, email@example.com)