University News

Joseph R. Withers Memorial Scholarship at WIU

January 27, 2015

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MACOMB, IL -- Family and friends of the late Joseph R. Withers (1961-2013) of Peoria have established a scholarship in his honor at Western Illinois University.

Withers, a lifelong resident of Peoria, graduated from WIU in 1983. Those close to him describe Withers as "a man of great integrity and faith, his smile lit up the room and he was a friend to everyone he met. Joe was extraordinarily generous and giving to those who helped others and also to those who worked hard to help themselves."

The scholarship is intended to keep Withers' memory and spirit of generosity alive at Western. Friends and family said that Withers loved his time at WIU, and he made some of the best friends of his life. After graduating with a degree in finance, he returned to Peoria and worked as a claims adjustor for RLI Insurance for nearly 20 years.

The annual scholarship is open to all majors and will be awarded to an incoming freshman or transfer student from a single-parent home. Preference will be given to students from the Peoria area. Withers' father passed away when he was only 10 years old. He was the youngest of seven children, and according to friends, "He had a place in his heart for what it takes for a single parent to endure."

Friends thought of Withers as a giver, and regard the scholarship as a means for him to continue to give back to Western. According to Withers' friends, "A life that touches others goes on forever."

Contributions to the scholarship in Withers' memory are welcome. Gifts can be made online at or mailed to the WIU Foundation, 1 University Circle, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455-1390.

Applications, which are due April 1, and further information are available through the WIU Scholarship Office ( The first Joe Withers Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in Fall 2015.

Posted By: Julie Murphy, WIU Foundation (
Office of University Relations