Allan Purdy, founding president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, died Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010, after suffering a stroke on Sunday. He was 96.
Mr. Purdy was best known for his work in financial aid, helping students to secure scholarships and student loans. He helped to create numerous financial aid programs, including the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
“Throughout his life Allan worked to make the dream of a college education in reach for students across Missouri. His legacy of opening the doors of college to Missourians will be remembered by the countless lives he touched,” U.S. Sen. Kit Bond said in a news release.
Mr. Purdy was born on July 26, 1914, to Alfred Lee and Susan Luella (Walker) Purdy in Macon County. He attended the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU, where he ultimately received his graduate degree. Attending college during the Great Depression, Mr. Purdy used the National Youth Administration for assistance with finding work. This experience sparked his interest in financial aid.
After graduation, Mr. Purdy taught at Rutgers University before joining the Navy, where he served as a PT boat captain during World War II. After the war, he returned to MU to work as an extension horticulturist, according to the NASFAA site.
Mr. Purdy later became the assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture, where he worked to help college students find part-time jobs and scholarships.
“His legacy is his service to the students," said Ray Purdy, son of Allan Purdy. "He would come into contact with young people and know that with further education their lives could become richer and more fulfilling.”
In 1962, Mr. Purdy began meeting with aid administrators throughout the Midwest and helped to form the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, according to the NASFAA site.
Mr. Purdy continued his work in 1966 when he helped to form the National Student Financial Aid Council. Hechaired the council for three years before the group became NASFAA in 1969.
In 1975, NASFAA awarded Mr. Purdy its first Lifetime Membership Award, the organization's highest honor, for his service.
“The story of Purdy is a story of dedication and of a visionary. He was a financial aid adviser before anyone knew what a financial aid adviser was," said Justin Draeger, NASFAA president. "He took a leap of faith in forming a national organization, but NASFAA has been extremely influential. It was all born out of his dedication.”
After retiring in 1979, Mr. Purdy went to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority’s Board of Directors in 1981. He served on the board for more than 20 years.
Gov. Jay Nixon issued a release on Mr. Purdy's passing:
“Mr. Purdy lived a full and accomplished life, including being the captain of a PT boat during World War II and raising a family with his wife, Vivian. But perhaps his greatest and most lasting contribution to Missourians was his steadfast devotion for more than 50 years to making college more affordable in our state. Mr. Purdy spent more than 20 years in charge of scholarships and student loans at the University of Missouri before becoming one of the driving forces to create MOHELA (Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority), which has enabled many thousands of Missourians to achieve their dream of a college degree.”
Mr. Purdy’s influence survives through The Purdy Scholarship Fund, which helps students in need of financial assistance. He is survived by his wife, Vivian; and their children Robert, George, Ray and Christina.
Mr. Purdy's parents died earlier.
“He was very compassionate, caring, socially engaged and he was a friend. He loved people. If his body hadn’t given out, he’d still be out connecting with people,” Ray Purdy said.
A memorial service for Mr. Purdy will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 30 at the First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway, where he was a member since 1934. The service will be officiated by former ministers Dan Day, John Baker and Bob Russell. A reception will follow in the fellowship hall.
“I was privileged to work with Mr. Purdy on education issues in recent years," Nixon said. "Well past his 90th birthday, he still demonstrated the wisdom and insight that made him a leader in education for many decades. Mr. Purdy leaves a legacy in Missouri that everyone who values higher education should honor.”