Mrs. Kuhn provided this background information to the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation at the time she created the Vienna Baptist Church Scholarship Fund:
My maiden name was DeVol. The name of the first ancestor of mine this side of the Atlantic appeared in records in New England in 1640. After the American Revolution Captain Jonathan Devol (he used a lower case v) came to Marietta to take up a land grant in the first settlement in the Northwest Territory. His wife and children followed him to this area. He was acquainted with the Cook family, early settlers in Parkersburg. His grandson Jonathan Lafayette DeVol (we don't know who started the capital V) married one of Tillinghast Cook's daughters. My grandfather, Frank DeVol was their son. Frank DeVol and his wife Eliza Carter DeVol were active members of the First Baptist Church where her brother John was pastor. Grandma taught a ladies' class and she and Grandpa organized a mission in what was known as East End.
My mother's father, Presley W. Morris was active in the Baptist Church in Harrisville, WV. When he became editor of the State Journal, he moved his family to Parkersburg. My mother probably became acquainted with my father through the church. He had a fine tenor voice and added to the family income by singing in churches that paid some of their choir members, and often was asked to sing at funerals. My mother taught a class of teen-age girls. As a child, I was no stranger to the rummage sales, dinners, teas and charitable activities of the Ladies Aide, the Kings Daughters, the various circles, the missionary society, etc. in which my mother participated. For my part, I attended Sunday School, taught a class, and filled various offices in the Baptist Young Peoples Union. I sang in the choir, directed plays, participated in conventions, assemblies, and seminars, and as an adult, was co-sponsor of the BYPU.
Grandfather Morris was a strong believer in education. Most of his nine children went to college. His oldest boy earned a doctorate at the University of Chicago, and one of the first women to graduate from West Virginia University was my Aunt Hortense. In my own family, four of the six children lived beyond childhood, and all four went to college. The cost of that may seem small to people today, but in the depth of the Depression, the sum was as difficult to acquire as the staggering amounts needed now.
I had to summon all my courage to matriculate at Marietta College with a half tuition scholarship and just $50, but I learned that if you begin, ways open up. I lived at home, commuted by street car, carried brown bag lunches and spent a lot of time in various $.25 an hour jobs. When I graduated, I didn't have any debts except gratitude. On the strength of a teaching assignment in Wood County, I started to work for a Master's degree at Ohio University during summer sessions. With the background I have described, I'm sure it is clear why I have long wanted to offer a scholarship. I believe that churches and schools together provide our best hope for a better world. Helping a promising young person will help to achieve that goal.
My husband, Wilbur J. Kuhn, came to Wood County from Tarleton, Ohio, a little town south of Columbus. His three sisters and two brothers attended Ohio University and all but one became teachers. His first school, Pine Cottage, was a one-room school with 13 students. He drove his Model T to the point where the road became impassable and walked the last three miles. His salary for the year was $650, but he didn't get paid until after Christmas; the school board didn't have any money. Yet he said it was the best year he ever taught. The big garden at home provided vegetables for soup he would make for the children. It supplemented the bean sandwiches they brought. A primitive hot lunch program. His brother Dave replaced him at Pine Cottage when he was hired as principal-teacher at Tarleton's four-room school.
After two years at Ohio University, he was certified to teach, but it took many summers to complete his degree. A teacher from Wood County became acquainted with him the summer he graduated and persuaded him to apply for an Industrial Arts position in the schools here. In 1942, just after he received his Master's, he was called to serve in World War II. He became a Staff Sergeant attached to the Air Force that supported Patton in his advance into Germany. Home from the war, he returned to teaching, first at Neale, then Washington Jr. High. When Franklin Junior High was built, he designed and laid out the shop. He earned the respect and gratitude of the boys in his classes and of his colleagues to whom he gave advice and support. In 1973, he was recognized as Wood County's and West Virginia's Teacher of the Year. One of our proud possessions was a plaque given to him one Christmas proclaiming him "The Worlds Most Helpful Neighbor." It was well deserved. All the neighbors sought his advice and help and borrowed his tools for all sorts of home improvements and maintenance.
I love to tell about the time he went to buy some strawberry plants. He found the old gentleman who had them for sale was in a bind. He had work he needed to complete, but he wanted to go to the funeral of a good friend. He needed a haircut and just didn't have time. "Sergeant" Kuhn had honed his skills in the art of barbering during the war. So he gave the man a hair cut and stayed to finish the work while the man went to the funeral. He could get the berry plants another day. Of course I was upset when he wasn't home by dark and in my mind, he was lying unconscious by the road side. It took a few years for me to accept the fact that if he weren't the kind of person who would do that much for a stranger, I wouldn't care so much about him.
In establishing this scholarship. I know I would have his full support and approval, although he might have protested its being in his honor.
Mary "Sue' Kuhn was born December 26, 1918 in Parkersburg. She passed away on May 30, 2006. She married Wilbur Jacob Kuhn on August 20, 1949. He preceded her in death on May 12, 1998.