Paying It Forward

The Blue Collar Scholarship honors the life & impact of Kent Quesenberry

Blue collar is in our genes,” said Joni Quesenberry. “Both Kent’s and my families were blue collar and Billie and Jessie inherited the gene.”

Kent Quesenberry used to say, “You’re never too old to learn something new each day.” As a Master Plumber and Class B contractor, Kent could often be seen leaning on his shovel at a worksite, taking the time to get to know everyone and pass along advice and encouragement.

“He was an awesome person and had a hello for every single person he met. He made it feel like you had known him your whole life,” said Billie, one of Kent’s daughters. “He was always a jokester, always laughing, and always had a twinkle in his eye.”

In addition to sharing his expertise on the job site, Kent’s values around gaining and sharing knowledge extended to higher education. When his daughters Billie and her younger sister Jessie were both in college at the same time, Kent and his wife, Joni, started to think about how they could eventually help other blue collar families navigate paying for college, especially because both of their daughters benefitted from scholarships.

“We’re a blue collar family and it’s very close to our hearts. We learned that being a second, third, and fourth year in college makes it much harder to get scholarships,” said Jessie. “We want to help families like ours by helping their kids go to college or further their education in whatever way.”

At their last Christmas together with Kent in 2020, the Quesenberry family gathers. Back row from left: Wesley Turpin (Jessie’s husband), Kent, Kerry Martin (Billie’s husband); front row from left: Jessie, Joni, and Billie.

Eventually, Joni reached out to the CFNRV to gather information about setting up a scholarship fund, but life got busy, and the idea was shelved for the time being. Years later, in 2021, Kent unexpectedly passed away. While his family was discussing how to honor his legacy, they revisited the idea of a scholarship to support families like theirs. When they felt ready, they reached back out to the Foundation.

“Everyone at the Foundation made this a welcoming and supportive experience. The Blue Collar Scholarship would not be a reality without their help,” said Joni. “Learning all the rules and laws involved in setting up a scholarship would be overwhelming without their expertise and guidance. With the Foundation at our side, we now feel like the scholarship will continue to grow and be around for generations.”

“It would be our greatest joy to know that Dad’s legacy will continue and enable others to continue their education,” said Billie.

Together with the CFNRV team, Joni, Billie, and Jessie worked out the parameters of the fund, to provide scholarships to students in the NRV from blue collar families to pursue a degree at a 2 or 4-year college, university, trade, or technical school.Scholarship selection criteria include demonstrated financial need and a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Preference is given to students already in college.

The Quesenberry family have been surrounded by the support of their community since Kent’s passing, with many individuals and businesses contributing to the scholarship fund. They also heard stories about Kent’s impact on those who knew him and how many people he had gone out of his way to help over the course of his career.

As Kent’s family reflects on the future, they hope that the scholarship comes to someone at the right time and helps them do something – just like scholarships did for Billie and Jessie. All three women find comfort in knowing they are helping to continue Kent’s legacy of encouraging people along their path in life. They hope that receiving a scholarship from the fund inspires those students to one day help others in a similar position and that it continues to grow each year.

“It would be our greatest joy to know that Dad’s legacy will continue and enable others to continue their education,” said Billie.


Would you like to donate to
the Blue Collar Scholarship fund?

Please visit givelocalnrv.org/story/Bluecollar to make a contribution. For more information about setting up a scholarship fund, contact the CFNRV team at cfnrv@cfnrv.org or 540-381-8999.

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