John Scotford

Posted by - - 1940s, 1950s, Giving Stories, Visionaries

Whitworth President Emeritus Bill Robinson appreciated having a man like John Scotford, ’51, on the board of trustees. “I never lost track of John in a board meeting,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t afford to. He would lean forward, and a wince would crease his face as if he were having some kind of gastronomical issue. The wince would soon become a full-on facial contortion. ‘Bill,’ he’d say, stretching my name into three syllables, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just a dumb car salesman, but…’ And whatever followed was spot-on. John’s fierce love for Whitworth and his laser-beam business savvy made it impossible for him to sit still if we got lazy or wayward in our thinking. He refused to let that happen. And that is as valuable to Whitworth as the millions of dollars he and Judy have given with such generosity and joy.”

Scotford’s life as a business leader began at Whitworth, where his first mentor was then-President Mark Koehler, a man who, Scotford said, “definitely showed me a great example of what a leader is.” Scotford graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Soon after, he flew jets for the U.S. Air Force, and he bought an auto dealership in 1962. He would later own restaurants, a gas and oil company, real estate, a bank, and nursing homes. Eventually, as his many business enterprises grew, Scotford joined the Whitworth Board of Trustees.

He called his time on the board “the years that taught me the true excellence of Whitworth as an educational institution founded upon traditional Christian values.” Scotford retired as chairman and chief executive officer of McBarscot Co., a family-held corporation in Poland, Ohio, in 1993, but his membership on the Whitworth board continued until 2005.

Anyone who walks the Whitworth campus can see the fruits of Scotford’s contributions: He and his wife, Judy, have always been generous to the university, and John has given lavishly of his expertise and his time along with his funds.
Along with million-dollar gifts, a few of the Scotfords’ tangible contributions that students appreciate today include Omache Field, the dedicated outdoor space for intramural sports; the Bonnie V. Robinson Endowed Keyboard Scholarship, awarded to outstanding piano and organ students to fund their music studies; the Scotford Fitness Center (now used for strength training) and the Scotford Tennis Center.