The late Lyle E. and Dorothea F. Koogler — parents of alumna and Professor of Theatre Theresa “Terry” Koogler Southerington ’72 and Mary Baldwin College Technical Director of Theatre Sam Koogler — left a legacy behind to honor family ties to MBC. They set up a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust with the intention of establishing the Koogler Family Scholarship to support local students who attend Mary Baldwin. High-achieving undergraduate students from Augusta or Rockbridge counties — or from the cities within those geographic boundaries — will be eligible for the scholarship. Awarded for the first time during the 2013–14 academic year, the scholarship may also benefit students in the Shakespeare and Performance graduate program.
Lyle and Dorothea Koogler became connected to the college through their daughter, Southerington, whom Dean Martha Grafton recruited as early decision after reading an article about her in the local newspaper. That connection would soon extend to form a network of alliances, leading the Kooglers to plan an estate gift and gain membership to the Kiracofe Society in recognition of their commitment.
“I was going to attend Virginia Tech or Temple, but my parents encouraged me to check out Mary Baldwin,” Southerington said. “The college offered me a scholarship and admittance into the honors program, so I decided to go for two years and transfer. But two years later, I loved it and didn’t want to leave.”
And she has remained at MBC — teaching for 38 years in addition to her work in the local theatre scene, namely the Oak Grove Theater, co-founded by the late Fletcher Collins, professor of theatre, and his wife Margaret, theatre manager and playwright.
A discernible passion for the stage and for the college runs in her family, as brother Sam Koogler and late husband Frank Southerington shared these interests. Koogler also became involved with local theatre after he retired from the Air Force, and he began working for MBC theatre department nearly 15 years ago. “Mary Baldwin has really become a family affair,” he said.
Southerington’s late husband, Frank, was professor emeritus of English at MBC. He taught for 39 years, during which he co-founded the Shakespeare and Performance graduate program and served as its director before retiring in 2007. He was also instrumental in bringing the Blackfriars Playhouse to Staunton and remained active in both community and MBC theatre up until his death in August 2013.
The bond the Kooglers formed with the college will serve students for generations to come. “Our parents decided to give to Mary Baldwin because it was so connected to family. Sam and I are carrying out their wishes. I started at Mary Baldwin on a scholarship, and now we’re giving something back,” she said. Koogler summed up her remarks: “Paying it forward,” he said.