This fund supports scholarships for students graduating from Wilson High School who are pursuing post-secondary education of any kind (college, university, trade or technical school) and have balanced extracurricular activities with academics, participated in activities that serve others, and shown academic improvement during their secondary education years. Recipients must have demonstrated motivation, good behavior, school spirit, a sense of purpose, and have a financial need. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview.
In 2015, the scholarship fund received its largest donation, which was featured in the Reading Eagle.
Excerpts from the article:
Gary Coller isn’t a wealthy businessman or the heir to a great fortune. The former Wilson School Board member is a retired teacher who also drove a bus for years, and he owns a modest house in West Lawn.
Yet Coller donated $100,000 to the Wilson Scholarship Fund, which has been helping Wilson High School graduates go to college for nearly 20 years.
“I just think it’s phenomenal that he did that,” said Dr. Rudy Ruth, Wilson superintendent.
Coller is chairman of the scholarship fund committee and decided to make the donation in honor of his parents, Vivian and Earl R. “Dick” Coller, who live in Reading. The fund is administered by the Berks County Community Foundation.
Gary taught science and driver education in the Reading School District, drove a Wilson school bus and was the district’s transportation supervisor in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He drove a bus in the Wyomissing and Gov. Mifflin school districts for 12 years after his retirement. He was on the Wilson School Board for nearly 25 years.
“I’m not well off – not by any means,” Gary said. “But my parents and grandparents taught me to live within my means.”
His donation came from his investments as well as investments that were passed down from his father and grandfather.
Gary originally intended to leave the money to the scholarship fund in his will, but decided he would much rather give it now and have the chance to see students benefit…
It was around the time the “Pay It Forward” movie came out that Gary became a member of the scholarship committee.
He knew he wanted to do something to boost the fund, and started to work on a plan last summer with his financial advisor, Paul Marrella, who also sits on the scholarship committee.
Gary later called the Berks County Community Foundation to discuss his plan to donate $100,000.
“He wanted to set an example of paying it forward and I said, ‘Well, Gary, that would show them how to pay it forward,’ ” said Frances A. Aitken, the foundation’s senior vice president for finance and operations.
In the 19 years the fund has existed, the biggest donation after Gary’s has been $8,000 and the average gift is around $125, she said.
“He’s not a Rockefeller. He’s not a Bill Gates. And he made this gift,” Aitken said…
Bob Weirich, who is one of the fund’s founders and was chairman until about a year ago, was stunned when he found out about the donation.
“Gary has done so much for Wilson,” he said. “It’s unbelievable what he has done and continues to do.”
Deadline & Cycle
This fund supports scholarships for students graduating from Wilson High School who are pursuing post-secondary education of any kind.
January 1 - March 1
Western Berks County
Scholarships and Awards