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Scholarship Fund Honors Young Man “Known by Many, Liked by All”
Every so often the story of a promising life ending too soon covers headlines and tugs at our hearts. The life of Kevin Lauterbach is just such a story. At age 32, Kevin suffered a traumatic brain injury from a skiing accident in Colorado and never regained consciousness. What he achieved during his brief life, however, is nothing short of inspiring.
To honor the memory of her son, Patty Lauterbach established the Kevin Lauterbach Scholarship for the Arts through the Oakwood Schools Education Foundation, a component fund of The Dayton Foundation. To date, scholarship awards have assisted 17 Oakwood High School graduates to pursue an education in the arts.
What was Kevin most passionate about in his life?
Kevin was known by many and liked by all. Wherever he traveled or lived, he made many friends from all walks of life. Kevin appreciated and enjoyed their diversities. He had a unique ability to find commonality with people he met. When meeting Kevin for the first time, you would think his passion lied in outdoor adventures - biking, skiing, climbing, kayaking, etc. In reality, these activities were a conduit for Kevin to make friends and enjoy amazing experiences together.
Can you share a little about his cross country bicycling journeys?
His cross country journeys began here in Dayton. During high school he would bike to and from Bellbrook, Wilmington and over the Ohio/Kentucky border. Kevin loved a challenge, and biking fulfilled that for him. He quickly learned that biking and travelling were unique ways to see the country and meet people.
His first cross country bike ride began in New York City. Only 20 miles outside of the city, he already had two flats, and rain poured down. He stopped at a gas station and began talking to a family about his cross country plans. While he was inside the station, the family left him a care package on his bike with a note of encouragement. He kept pedaling, making it all the way to the West Coast.
He zigged-zagged across the nation multiple times, seeing amazing places, making fantastic memories, and most importantly, meeting some wonderful people who in turn became friends. On the road, he sent handmade postcards to his friends so they could experience the journey with him. Over the years, he made hundreds of postcards with sketches, amazing photographs and even pine tree air fresheners he'd find on the side of the road.
One story in particular typifies Kevin’s journey. A couple met Kevin outside of a grocery store in Sandpoint, Idaho. They asked him to spend the night so they could learn of his travels. They became such close friends that Kevin applied for a minister’s license so he could officiate their wedding. He had a unique gift of being able to connect with people, and his journeys allowed him to enjoy wonderful experiences with his friends, new and old, in a way that we are still truly grateful.
Why did you decide to honor his memory with a scholarship fund?
We wanted to honor his incredible life, share his story and make sure his memory lived on. Establishing a scholarship seemed to fit the bill and also helped us deal with this difficult loss. The recipients are all talented artists in their own right. Some have become graphic designers, art therapists and art educators. One recipient has received world-wide recognition for his theatrical stage designs.
How are you raising money for this fund?
The Dayton Foundation does a wonderful job managing Kevin’s scholarship fund. Over the past 18 years the fund has grown from the original investment. Many thoughtful and generous donations have been made to help with this growth too. A few years ago, Kevin’s best friend lost his mother. His family generously requested donations be made to Kevin’s scholarship fund in her memory. We are forever grateful and touched by this kind gesture. I also am a watercolorist. When commissioned to do a painting, I request a donation be made to Kevin’s scholarship fund in lieu of payment.
Would you say the Oakwood Schools Education Foundation and The Dayton Foundation are helping you to help others?
Both foundations have done a wonderful job of managing Kevin’s fund, which allows our intentions of keeping Kevin’s memory alive and helping students financially be fulfilled. I receive quarterly reports to show expenses and growth, and very little money is used toward management fees. We are very appreciative of The Dayton Foundation for not only their professionalism, but for how they handle this endeavor with such compassion.
What inspires you about the community?
I am a Daytonian but have lived in many other cities over the years. Happily my children and I returned to Dayton in the early 1980s. Kevin’s older brother, Greg, lives in Oakwood with his family. He is an architect with an office in the Oregon District. Kevin’s sister, Muffy, lives in Springboro with her family. They are both graduates of Oakwood High School. I feel the residents of Dayton have a unique concern for others. Daytonians are kind and compassionate, as well as generous with their time, talent and assets.
How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?
...happy and proud that we are helping students pursue their passion and achieve their goals in the art field. We also are grateful to know that Kevin’s spirit continues on through the talents of each recipient.
Read more stories about Dayton Foundation donors who were inspired to create a legacy in honor of their loved ones, or to make a difference in their community.
For recent news and updates about The Dayton Foundation, read our press releases online.
IN HIS WORDS
“Towards the end of Cindy’s life, she asked me, ‘After I’m gone, what will there be to say that I was here?’ Establishing this fund was her way to continue reaching out and touching children’s lives, as she did throughout her lifetime.” – John Edgar, donor, on the Remar Family and John and Cindy Edgar Endowment Fund