$1M nursing scholarship endowment started with 'I do'

Feb 14, 2023Courtney Morris
Just Married

It's not every day someone calls to donate $1 million. At best, those voicemails raise eyebrows. At worst, they get deleted as spam.

That's the trouble Burl Clifton "B.C." Black Jr. ran into when he called several Houston institutions to make a sizeable gift for nursing students. Only San Jacinto College responded.

But the Katha and Clifton Black Nursing Scholarship is not about who answered the phone. It's about a love story.

The newlyweds slice their wedding cake in 1954. (Photo courtesy of Black Family)
The newlyweds slice their wedding cake in 1954. (Photo courtesy of Black Family)
Lifelong sweethearts


B.C. met Katha Stroud at a Billy Graham revival in 1952. In just five minutes, B.C. knew the brunette with the fetching smile was "the girl I want to marry." In 1954, the high school sweethearts married. B.C. started his own electric company, and Katha went on to graduate from Houston's Lilly Jolly School of Nursing. Three sons followed: Mike, Pat, and Tim.

Eventually, Katha became a full-time nurse for Pasadena ISD, while master electrician B.C. added rancher and real estate/stock investor to his resume.

The pair balanced each other well. Katha cared for everyone around her — from communicating in a special language with the family pets to whipping up lasagna for her hungry clan and any friends sidling up to the table. The only time she didn't put others first was during her do-not-disturb power nap.

While B.C. was "hard-working and self-made," he enjoyed mentoring others. He also knew how to save, dealing bread slices like cards before dinner to ensure leftovers or emptying grocery shelves of 8-for-$1 cans of pork and beans.

"We think his taste buds were tied to getting a good deal," Mike joked.

Although the couple enjoyed getting away from it all at their lake house, they also showed up for anyone who needed help. Katha nursed aging family members, and she and B.C. cared for each other too.

"The devotion between the two of them was pretty special to watch," Tim said.

In February 2017, while hospitalized with cancer, Katha nursed for the last time, examining B.C.'s sore wrist. Hours later, just weeks shy of their 63rd anniversary, she passed away.

Loving legacy

In 2018, B.C. found the best way to honor his beloved wife. At his granddaughter's dance show, he wiped away tears as several high school seniors announced their plan to become nurses.

"That totally inspired my dad," Mike said. "It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse and be a good one like our mother was."

In the end, San Jac was a fitting place for B.C.'s gift: Mike and Pat had attended the College, and San Jac had also produced strong nursing graduates since the 1960s. Before his passing in 2020, B.C. started to create the scholarship endowment.

Today, his gift represents one of the largest private donations in San Jac's history. The endowment, which began awarding scholarships in fall 2022, will help working registered nurses who are pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to advance their careers.

Speaking of their parents, Mike, Pat, and Tim choke up a little. They hope this scholarship touches those whose work touches everyone else.

"Watching both our parents as they got older, it's so important to have good caregivers," Pat said. "We want to make it easier for those who are inspired to pursue that career path."

Earn your BSN degree at San Jac

Are you a registered nurse wanting to take the next step in your career? Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree conveniently and affordably at San Jac.

Scholarships are available. Apply from April 18 to Aug. 17 for the fall 2023 cohort. Designed to fit around your work schedule, this flexible one-year program includes 100% online classes. Learn more: sanjac.edu/bsn or sanjacbsn@sjcd.edu

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