Scholarships perpetuate legacy of Winthrop professor killed in crash

adys@heraldonline.comDecember 27, 2012 

The criminal proceedings are finished.

A pair of drivers who were racing on N.C. 49 near the Buster Boyd Bridge in April 2009 and caused a crash that killed three people are in prison.

Carlene Atkinson of York has more than two years left of a prison sentence she received in August. Tyler Stasko of North Carolina has about three years left on his prison sentence.

Now, more than 3.5 years after Winthrop professor Cynthia Furr and her 2-year-old daughter, McAllister, were killed in that crash, Furr’s legacy lives on in scholarships and grants in what is called the CindyMackie Foundation.

The third person killed was Hunter Holt, 13, of Clover.

“This past year, finally, all of the courts, and the public eye, is over,” said Sharon Furr, the younger sister of Cynthia Furr who operates a farm in rural Chester County. “But what will never be over, hopefully, is continuing what Cindy gave to her students for so long: Inspiration and help.”

Monday, the last day of 2012, is the last day applications will be accepted for this year’s round of giving to teachers and students in literature, the arts and music. Cynthia Furr, who died at age 45, was an English professor at Winthrop and minister of music at her church. She had taught high school in Charlotte before becoming a college professor, and her dedication to teaching inspired several students to pursue careers teaching children.

All the money for the scholarships comes from donations to the foundation, which strives to assist students studying music, poetry, literature, teaching, painting and more - all the joys of Cindy Furr’s life.

One scholarship last year helped a student who had to take a leave of absence to get an organ transplant, Sharon Furr said.

“In that young person being able to take her course work online while dealing with the hospital and so much else, it is a little bit of Cindy helping that young lady go on with her life and be able to pursue her dreams,” Sharon Furr said. “It is rewarding for me, and my parents, to be able to keep this going.”

In the past two years the foundation has given out almost $30,000 in scholarships and grants, including a pair of $1,000 scholarships to a Chester County teacher who bought books for her students. Some money went to aspiring teachers in Fort Mill and Clover, and other money helped buy band instruments at York Comprehensive High School.

Winthrop University also has a $1,000 annual scholarship in Cynthia Furr’s name for a top student who wants to teach English. Faculty in the English Department, peers of Cynthia Furr who knew her dedication to students, started the scholarship.

“Cindy inspired students and this scholarship is a way to continue that inspiration and her legacy,” said John Bird, an English professor at Winthrop.

Cynthia Furr was one of those people for whom description takes a while. She played piano and taught English at Winthrop - and also taught kickboxing. She was a mentor to students who wanted to teach, but still found time to put on a Christmas program and so much more at her church in Lake Wylie. She came from a working class family - her father was a utility lineman - and worked her way through college, then still found time and energy to get advanced degrees to pursue her dream of teaching the English classics at Winthrop.

“She never stopped achieving and she never stopped dreaming,” Sharon Furr said. “These scholarships, these grants - even the students at Winthrop who want to become teachers like Cindy was - keeps her dream alive.”

Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065 * adys@heraldonline.com

Want to help?

CindyMackie Foundation – The Furr family scholarships are open to students in South Carolina and North Carolina. Deadline for applications for 2012 awards is Monday at midnight.

All application information and requirements, and donation information, can be found at the foundation Web site, www.cindymackiefoundation.org.

For additional information contact Sharon Furr at 803-385-6958, or 704-577-3639.

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