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Work Hard and Do Your Best

Hurshel and Norene Baxter

Hurshel and Norene Baxter
“Work hard and do your best” was a lesson Hurshel Baxter taught his daughters and his students. It was something he and his wife Norene, who were devoted educators, practiced throughout their lives.

Through trusts established in their wills, the Baxters provided income for their two daughters, Karen and Kathy, for the rest of their daughters’ lives. At their daughters’ deaths, the trusts will be dissolved and funds divided equally between the University of Wyoming and another university.

Funds awarded to the University of Wyoming will be divided equally between two program areas. These program areas represent the areas in which each of the Baxters received their master’s degrees at UW. They are the Hurshel F. and Norene V. Baxter Chemistry Graduate Fellowship and the Norene V. and Hurshel F. Baxter Business Graduate Fellowship.

These are merit-based fellowships. Applicants are U.S. citizens and Wyoming residents who have earned bachelor’s degrees at accredited colleges or universities. They have at least a 3.0 grade point average (4.0 scale) and are accepted for a full-time UW master’s or doctorallevel program.

The goal of the Baxters and their daughters is for their bequest to make a difference in students’ lives. In remembrance of their time at UW, they want to recognize top students and award students who have a desire to learn. “The most important piece is that we want the funds used every semester,” Karen says, “so flexibility is important. These fellowships recognize scholarship and effort.”

Hurshel was born in Oklahoma in 1920. He served in the Navy during World War II and retired from the Navy Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander. He earned degrees on the GI Bill in chemistry and education from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Wyoming. He taught chemistry, math, and physics in Oklahoma, Sheridan Community College, the Minuteman Air Force Base, and the Navy Training School in Bainbridge, Maryland. He tutored students who were having difficulties, and his proudest moments were when students “got it.” He loved to fish, listen to Big Band music, and follow current affairs.

Norene was born in Oklahoma in 1918. She and Hurshel met and married in 1939 in Texas. She earned degrees in business and education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the University of Wyoming. She taught business education at Big Horn High School for more than 20 years and then for 15 years in Illinois. She was a devoted educator who spent many hours helping students with extracurricular activities. Norene loved plants—house plants, flowers, and vegetable gardens.

The Baxters retired while in Illinois then traveled by RV for 20 years from Alaska to Mexico and California to Canada. They were married for 68 years until Hurshel’s death in 2007. Norene passed away in 2015. But their legacy lives on in the many students they will continue to help through their generosity.

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