The following editorial appeared in the Sept. 26 edition of the Natchitoches Times.
As Northwestern State was starting a new academic, two of the school’s prominent alumni that have long supported their alma mater again demonstrated the kind of loyalty and generosity that strengthens and enhances any university.
Ellis and Juanita Coutee expanded their extensive assistance to NSU and their reputation for extraordinary philanthropy in education, religion and other areas of society with a $100,000 gift to establish endowed scholarships in memory of their daughter. [A video of the scholarship presentation is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQzEUgxathI.]
The Marla Renee Coutee Thurman Endowed Memorial Scholarships that were created with the contribution will provide financial support for Catholic students pursuing degrees in nursing. Mrs. Thurman died in April after a courageous battle with cancer.
Also a Northwestern graduate, Mrs. Thurman had served as a registered nurse for the Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport for 27 years. She had been a faithful member for many years of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Inspired and impressed by Marla’s passion for nursing and dedication to her profession, her husband Michael Thurman also became a nurse and shared her commitment and determination to provide compassionate care to ill and infirm patients.
As Ellis and Juanita Coutee stated in creating the scholarships, their daughter’s priorities were “God, family and nursing.” The Northwestern scholarships for Catholic nursing majors will reflect her priorities and bring perpetual esteem to Marla and her family.
Northwestern will also reap enormous benefits for years to come from the generosity of the Coutees, who have often cited their educational training and experiences at NSU as a major force in their successful business careers and productive lives.
An Alexandria native and 1960 NSU graduate, Ellis Coutee had a 30-year career with the U.S. Treasury Department and is now an enrolled agent with Coutee and Coutee Tax Consultants in Baton Rouge.
Juanita Coutee, from Zwolle, earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in 1958 and a master’s degree in 1960. She worked for Exxon Corp. in Baton Rouge for 33 years and was the first female professional employee and first female supervisor at the company.
Over the years, the Coutees have funded numerous endowed scholarships for Northwestern students and have supported many other programs and projects at the university.
Alumni like Ellis and Juanita Coutee are more important than ever to Northwestern and other Louisiana universities that have suffered substantial state budget reductions in the past few years.
Their most recent gift is especially significant and meaningful because it honors their daughter and will forever keep the Coutee name entrenched in the history of their beloved alma mater.
More information is also available here: news.nsula.edu/home/god-family-nursing.