Ferrari, Doris Gene Alber Scholarship Fund
For two West Noble High School seniors attending a four year college program as a full time student with the intention of going into the education field. Applicant must have a high school GPA of 2.50 and above to apply. Pays $3,000 one-time. (NCCF).
Donor Fund Story:
Even as a little child, Doris Gene LeCount Alber Ferrari wanted to be a teacher. She had several family members who were teachers including her Aunt Polly, her older sisters Helen LeCount Schermerhorn, and Kathryn LeCount Juday. Her brother Paul LeCount went to college to be a teacher, but after two years decided he preferred farming instead. Doris Gene grew up on a farm in Elkhart Township, Noble County just east of Wawaka. After graduating from Wawaka High School, she went to Manchester College for three years. After completing her student teaching in North Manchester, Indiana, she heard there was an opening in Avilla and decided to apply for the position. (Because there was a severe shortage of teachers at the time, the state was allowing people to teach with a permit.)
Doris Gene got the job and started to teach at Avilla in the fall of 1946. Her starting salary was $200 a month. She finished her degree during the summers and graduated in 1947 with a B.S. in Education. Her major was in education with a minor in art. In 1948 Doris Gene heard about an opening in Ligonier and applied. (Ligonier was closer to home and this was where the LeCounts had always shopped so it was natural for her to gravitate toward Ligonier.)
Judge John Hagen introduced Doris Gene to Robert Alber, DDS at a basketball game at Ligonier High School in January 1949. This went so well, that Bob proposed to her on her birthday – February 4, 1949. They were married June 4, 1949.
Doris Gene continued to teach until Jane was born in 1952. She took a break from teaching for five years during which Susan was born. In 1957 she taught art part time at Cromwell and Perry. In 1958-1959 she taught a split 1st and 2nd grade at the old Northside Elementary School in Ligonier.
When Becky (Rebecca) was nine months old, Doris Gene returned to full time teaching at Ligonier Elementary (1st grade) and remained there until her retirement in 1978 with a total of 29 years of teaching. While vacationing in Florida, a tragic accident took the life of Dr. Alber on July 31, 1970. Doris Gene was injured in the same incident.
Needless to say, this was life-changing for the Alber family as they worked through this loss. But time marched on, and healing came. Again, it was the Hagens who introduced Doris Gene to an eligible bachelor, Col. Vic Ferrari. They asked Doris Gene to be an escort for Vic to their daughter, Debbie’s (Laird) rehearsal dinner. Vic was best man in Debbie and David Laird’s wedding. Vic was a retired Air Force Colonel; shot down over Holland during the raids on Bremen, Germany. The Underground was able to walk him through France to the Pyrenees Mountains, to Gibralter to safety. Col. Ferrari taught psychology at the U.S. Air Force Academy and then served as Assistant Dean. He later headed up Notre Dame’s ROTC program during the Vietnam War. He retired from the military to take a position with USAA then moved to USAA Savings and Loan as President. After the wedding, Vic started calling Doris Jean almost every evening and came to visit several times. On September 3, 1978 they were married and settled in San Antonio, Texas.
Always one to be active, Doris Gene soon became involved in her new community. She volunteered at Lockhill Selma Elementary School tutoring children every morning for two years when she first moved there. One of her favorite pastimes has always been flower gardening, so it was natural for her to join the Hunters Creek Garden Club.
Since 1993, Doris Gene has been active with the Assistance League of San Antonio – a service group that provides clothing for children in need. The group also sews infant gowns for the “Any Baby Can” program and makes baseball caps for children going through chemotherapy.
Doris Gene is a member of University United Methodist Church where she participates in Bible Study, Sunday school and other activities. She has mentored children through the San Antonio Education Partnership program that Vic started through USAA in conjunction with the military bases in San Antonio.
Since Vic’s death in 2008, Doris Gene has been making some decisions regarding her estate. In doing so, she hasn’t forgotten her rural roots. Recently she became a member of the Noble County Community Foundation’s Noble Legacy Society. The scholarship she has established at the Community Foundation will benefit West Noble High School students pursuing post-secondary education. The first scholarship was awarded in 2011.
Doris Gene recognizes the importance of a quality education and the strong work ethic that rural living fosters and hopes future scholarship recipients will come to realize those same concepts.