Betty Jewell was offering Malone students gifts of new Bibles at New Student Orientation one late August day several years ago when she learned of a trip being planned to a Cleveland Indians game later that week.
Without hesitation, the spunky Oklahoman native decided she'd join them — never mind that she was more than 50 years their senior.
Self-dubbed the "Wild West Lady," Jewell rode in the college van, bought the students hot dogs, cheered right along with them, and collected hugs as goodbyes.
Jewell doesn't remember if the Indians won or lost that day, but treasures the community spirit built with the young men and women: the chats between innings, high fives after a good play, the introductions of names and majors, hometowns and hopes, histories and futures.
Energetic, sharp, and youthful despite her almost 90 years, she's eager to share her life stories with new friends and old: Jewell was reared in Tulsa, Okla., the daughter of a prominent attorney who had countless clients working in the oil industry.
Her parents, F.C. and Louise Swindell, were good friends with the late Waldo Emerson (Dode) McIntosh, Indian chief of the Creek nations, a man who was a descendant of the Highland Scottish McIntosh clan and Creek tribal chiefs and played the music for many of Hollywood's silent movies. Of all of the Western treasures in her home — the leather saddle in the corner next to the cowboy boots she's had for 60 years, the blanket made out of llama fur, the colorful paintings on the wall, horse sculptures made of iron — the gift Jewell treasures most is an autographed copy of Dode's 1910 composition, "Around the Globe March."
Jewell enjoyed her own college experience — she majored in religion and minored in education at the University of Tulsa.
During her college years, Miss Betty Swindell met her future husband, William R. Jewell, at Sunday School.
"The story is a good one," Betty says. "Bill was on a bus one Sunday morning, trying to decide where to go to church. He saw a cute girl, and he decided wherever she got off, that's where he would go, too. She came to our church, but there were 5,000 people there, so she disappeared. Well, I was the college-age Sunday school class secretary, and he asked me where to go. So I kept him with me, filling out a visitor's card, and he soon called and asked me for a date."
The couple married in 1946, and in 1947 moved to North Canton for Bill's job. Soon they became a family with three children, Susie, Barbara, and Bob.
Quickly involving herself in the community, Betty began attending a Bible study in Canton that included then-president of Malone's wife, Catherine Cattell. And that friendship developed into the Jewells desiring to help Malone.
"My university has anything they want," says Jewell. "They want a football stadium? Someone builds it. A dorm? Done. But I noticed that nobody was doing that in Canton for Malone. So when I got a big bunch of money, I gave it to Malone. I don't live in Tulsa any more. I live in Canton, and Malone benefits the community I live in. And it benefits me because I live here."
The Bible study she attended with Mrs. Cattell had a profound affect on Jewell.
"Catherine knew the Bible so well, and through her I saw the influence Malone was having on students — educating Christians who wanted to make life better for others. You can't have too much of that!" Jewell says. She and her husband began volunteering on various college committees, especially for what is now known as the Malone Associates. One of the main projects of the Malone Associates is to give Bibles to incoming first-year students, something in which Jewell has taken a special interest.
"Students tell me how much they like having the same text as their classmates, and how they keep them forever," Jewell says. "I raise money for the Bibles and I get to help pass them out — I really enjoy that, and people enjoy giving money for it. I tell them $17 gets a student a Bible, so if they give me $1,700, they can put a Bible in 100 kids' hands. Whether people give enough for one Bible or 100, it's a wonderful thing."
As modeled for them by their extremely generous philanthropic parents, the Jewells have graciously invested in Malone University.
Long ago, Betty named Malone in her estate plan as a beneficiary of her charitable trust.
And, in 2002 — less than a year before he died in June, 2003— Bill established a Two-Life Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) to help support the University financially, and to benefit Betty if she survived him. Because the CGA agreement is a Two-Life contract, Betty, as Bill's survivor, continues to receive the fixed payment. With a CGA, there is fixed income generated to the annuitant(s) and a charitable tax deduction.
Malone University President, David A. King, Ed.D., is thrilled that Betty Jewell, and her late husband, Bill, became deeply involved with the University. "The entire Malone community has thoroughly benefitted from the commitment of Betty, and her late husband, Bill. Betty's service to Malone in her truly active volunteerism is remarkable. It is a joy to know Betty — to sense her passion about our mission, which is to serve the many students who seek a quality Christian higher education experience. On behalf of our students and the Malone University community, we are so grateful for the Jewells' generous philanthropic contributions, and for their thoughtful foresight in establishing substantive planned gifts on behalf of our students."