A generous and dedicated lady who made a difference


Beth Siphers Wendell was a quiet woman who spent her life teaching the region’s youngsters in local public schools and sharing her skills with various volunteer organizations.


The word “lady” most often is uttered when her former students are asked to describe Wendell. She was never one to make a fuss, and she always stayed out of the spotlight, choosing instead to do her work preparing her classes for future careers in or out of the business field.


She cared about her community and spent countless hours volunteering in civic organizations or museums in the Big Stone Gap community. Most importantly, Mrs. Wendell always made a difference in the lives of the people she taught, and in the community she served.


Her dedication to making life better for others continues even after she passed away on Feb. 11, 2010 at the age of 83. Mrs. Wendell left much of her estate to UVa-Wise. The bequest was just one of several gifts she made to UVa-Wise so young people would have a better chance to receive a quality education.


Many years ago she established the Henry A. and Edna Stewart Siphers Scholarship Fund as a memorial to her parents. She worked with Chancellor Emeritus Joseph C. Smiddy to establish the scholarship even before UVa-Wise had a development office.


“Her father arrived in the very early days of Wise County,” Mr. Smiddy said. “Beth was very interested in this area.  She wanted to bring the opportunity for higher education that her parents never had to the young people of the area.” 


Later, she further demonstrated her support for the College by establishing the Glenn Hurst Wendell and Beth Siphers Wendell Scholarship.

“Beth and her husband were working people,” Mr. Smiddy said. “They had nothing handed to them.  They earned and saved everything they had for the betterment of the next generation.”


Mr. Smiddy describes the couple as “very good citizens who spent their time volunteering in the community.”


She was involved in many civic organizations, including the June Tolliver House and the Lonesome Pine Hospital Auxiliary.  She was a devoted member of the East Stone Gap Methodist Church, the Valley Garden Club and the Big Stone Gap Music Club.

While her interests and commitments were many, her professional and personal passion was education.

A native of East Stone Gap, Mrs. Wendell was a graduate of the University of Tennessee, receiving both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Knoxville.  Before beginning her teaching career, she was employed at the University of Tennessee’s treasurer’s office.  In 1977, she retired from the Wise County School System, after many years of distinguished service as a business educator.

When Mrs. Wendell passed away, she made a lasting impact on future generations of UVa-Wise students by leaving a substantial portion of her estate to the College.  This estate gift endowment will provide scholarship funds to many students in perpetuity and leaves an invaluable impact on the College’s ability to educate the leaders of tomorrow.

Because of the generosity of Mrs. Wendell and others who follow her lead, UVa-Wise continues to lead the way in establishing a culture of higher education in Southwest Virginia, a dream she helped make possible from the earliest days of the College’s existence. 

For more information on making an estate gift to the College, please call (276) 376-1057.