Celebrating the Living: A UVA Wise Alumnus Scholarship Foundation Expands Its Legacy For Students

Nick England Memorial Scholarship Foundation Board members with Chancellor Henry
From left to right are Nick England Memorial Scholarship Foundation Board members Ron Elkins, Jeff Elkins, UVA Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry, Jennifer England, Foundation President Robert England, Board Members Russ Cyphers and the late Jim Hughes.

When Robert England, President of the Nick England Memorial Scholarship Foundation, first attended UVA Wise’s annual Scholarship Luncheon in 2018, he was struck that most of the people honored by scholarships, including his son Nick, had passed away. 

“The vast majority of these scholarships are created in heartache. I would see those names of the scholarships roll and those people had no idea that they were honored with a scholarship or memorialized,” England said. “My wife and I wanted to do something preemptively while our parents were still with us.”

This January, the England Foundation added four more bicentennial funds bringing the total number of scholarship funds to 10. Seven are already completely funded.

Two of those four new funds were in honor of Nick’s grandparents through the Bob and Judy England Golf Bicentennial Scholarship and the Jim and Jane Hughes Golf Bicentennial Scholarship.

“We felt it was so important to do this ahead of time and honor Nick’s grandparents while they were living,” England said. 

Three months later, his father-in-law, Jim Hughes, passed away unexpectedly. “He was a good dad, granddad and father-in-law,” England said. “We were so grateful that my father-in-law was honored while still alive. We didn’t realize how important that would be. It has really made it so much more meaningful now months later to realize we did the right thing.”

For more than 40 years, Hughes worked in banking and as a finance manager at Morgan McClure Chevrolet. Most recently, he served as secretary and treasurer for the Nick England Memorial Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors. 

Over the years, Jim had volunteered for many civic organizations, including the Lions Club, and served his church faithfully, but spent most of his time recently with family. 

“He could be stern, funny and very competitive, all at the same time. He hated to lose and loved to be in the mix of any competition regardless of the sport it was,” England said. “He wanted to be the best he could be and was involved with all of us, especially his kids and grandkids.”

When Nick passed away in 2017, the family treated the sudden tragedy as they would the better times—together. 

“We are a family that always does things together—cookouts, golf, church and other gatherings—that is who we are. We stand by each other in good and bad; we laugh and cry together and that means whatever we must tackle we do it together,” England said. 

Nick England graduated from UVA Wise in 2017 with a degree in biology, and was a valued member of the men’s golf team, helping to lead them to a conference championship in the fall of 2016.

The family took Nick’s passion for golf and turned it into a way to honor him and create an impactful legacy with the annual Nick England Memorial Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament, which funds student scholarships for UVA Wise students. 

Hughes, Nick’s maternal grandfather, was also an avid golfer for more than 50 years. As a college student, he played golf at then-Clinch Valley College, where he graduated from in 1972.

“He loved any kind of sports and was a big Kentucky basketball fan. He loved golf, and it has been an integral part of how our family spent time together. It made sense that the scholarship would benefit the College’s golf program,” England said. 

“Jim was someone you could count on and would always give good advice. He was just a rock of my entire family,” England said. “Losing him has been hard, but his name will be etched in the history of UVA Wise in the future with this scholarship.”

The other two of the four new funds were in honor of England Brothers Bicentennial Golf Fund and Nick England Foundation Golf Bicentennial Fund. The Englands’ other two sons are Highland Cavaliers, too. Daniel graduated from UVA Wise and is a physical therapist, and Jack is currently a junior golfer at the College. 

In 2022, Robert and Jennifer England and the Nick England Foundation Board received the College’s Volunteer of the Year award.

“The Nick England Scholarship Foundation Board has poured all of their energy into honoring the legacy of the late Nick England. He was an incredible young man and it was a joy to work with him while he was a student at UVA Wise. His legacy will live on forever, and his impact will be immeasurable,” said Valerie Lawson, UVA Wise vice chancellor for advancement and alumni engagement. 

This year, the annual Nick England Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on September 20 at the Lonesome Pine Country Club and all proceeds will directly benefit the Jim and Jane Hughes Bicentennial Golf Scholarship. 

It’s one the largest golf tournaments in the region with all of its proceeds funding student scholarships.

“We are grateful that people have been so generous. Every penny we raise goes to a student for some scholarship in some fashion. This year, it’s fitting that we honor Jim. He loved golf and the friendships and relationships that were so meaningful to him over the years,” England said. 

Thus far, more than 34 students have received financial support.

To make a gift in memory of Jim Hughes, visit giving.virginia.edu/wise and designate the gift for scholarship and in the “memory of” field add Jim Hughes’ name.

Anyone interested in the tournament, making a donation, or becoming a sponsor of the golf tournament can find information at https://nickenglandscholarship.com