First Stewart Couch scholarship
will be awarded in June
Stewart Couch passed away, unexpectedly in February 2012, a heartbroken
community searched for a way to memorialize this local leader. Within
days, the Outer Banks Association of Realtors (OBAR) and the Outer
Banks Community Foundation established a scholarship fund in his name
to benefit Hatteras students. From across the country, dozens of people
contributed to the fund.
Little did they know, Stewart himself had the exact same idea.
Couch grew up on Hatteras Island and graduated from Cape Hatteras High
School in 1968. After earning his business degree from East Carolina
University, Stewart came home to Hatteras, purchased a young Hatteras
Realty in 1982, and grew that small company into the nationally-known
vacation rental business it is today.
Stewart came from a
family of community-minded citizens (his father, the late Ray Couch,
helped establish the Outer Banks Preservation Association), and Stewart
followed that family tradition, serving as president of OBAR and the
Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, among other positions.
devoted to his native Hatteras, Stewart was also a world traveler, and
journeyed around the globe to ride the world’s greatest surf breaks. It
was in Nicaragua, on one such surf trip with friends, that he passed
away so suddenly, leaving behind a daughter, Nikki, two brothers, John
and Danny, a large and beloved family, and countless friends and
was known for his generosity, so no one was surprised that his will
included bequests to many coworkers and family members. Then one autumn
day in 2014, as the complex estate continued to settle, the Outer Banks
Community Foundation received a check for $160,000, a bequest from
Stewart Couch to be invested as a scholarship endowment to help
Hatteras students attend college.
gift was truly extraordinary,” said Lorelei Costa, the executive
director of the Community Foundation. “Combined with the funds raised
by OBAR in 2012, the R. Stewart Couch Hatteras Island Scholarship will
be our largest one-year scholarship to date -- $8,900 this year, which
is about the total cost of tuition, fees, and books for a full year at
most in-state universities.”
“Because Mr. Couch chose to invest
his gift as an endowment, the scholarship fund will continue to grow,”
said Lorelei, “even as it awards an annual scholarship each year for
generations to come.”
“We gave a lot of thought to the type of
student that Stewart would have wanted to support,” said Jackie
Ricks-Sample, the executrix of Stewart’s estate. “The selection will be
based on community service, academics, work history, extra-curriculars,
and financial need most of all.”
who knew Stewart would know that he’d want to help an underdog, a
diamond in the rough who might have been overlooked by others, but who
could really excel if just given an opportunity,” said Jackie.
addition to the R. Stewart Couch Hatteras Island Scholarship, the
Community Foundation manages over 40 other scholarships, including some
awards just for Hatteras students (the Inez Daniels Austin and the
Scott Day Family Scholarships), as well as other awards open to
Ocracoke, Currituck, and/or other Dare County students.
our scholarships are need-based, like the Stewart Couch award, while
others, like our Milton Jewell Scholarship, are strictly merit-based,”
explained Costa. “We have special scholarships for art majors, math
majors, education majors, firefighters, tennis players, golf players,
law enforcement majors, community college students, vocational
students, cosmetology students, and more. And some scholarships are
open to all the above.”
Graduating seniors can apply for any Community Foundation scholarship at www.obcf.org.
Applicants begin the process by completing a short questionnaire, which
quickly and easily directs them to the scholarships for which they’re
From there, students complete one common application,
upload one transcript, submit any required essays, and apply for all
Community Foundation scholarships for which they are eligible, all in
one place. Teachers and community members can provide confidential
recommendations online, without having to make multiple copies.
for all scholarships are due on Sunday, March 29. The first R. Stewart
Couch Hatteras Island Scholarship will be awarded at Cape Hatteras
Secondary School’s Senior Awards Night on Tuesday, June 2.
Stewart Couch’s community was left in shock upon his passing in
February 2012, many found some solace by giving back to Hatteras for a
scholarship in his name. And now we know that that was his exact wish.
more information about the Community Foundation’s scholarship program,
including application instructions and information on leaving a
scholarship bequest, please visit www.obcf.org, or call Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839.