On November 20, 2018, John Duncan Cameron passed away at age 53. Gone too soon, John’s family remembers him as being creative, an entrepreneur, and a hard worker. He loved to be on the water and enjoyed sailing.One special way John’s legacy lives on is through Frank Klamerus, the first recipient of the John Cameron Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will support Frank’s tuition in the Fire Fighter Academy program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich.

When Frank was announced as the scholarship recipient at graduation in late May for Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview, Mich., teachers in the audience audibly rejoiced.

“John’s spirit will be kept alive through the recipients of this endowed scholarship, as the criteria they will meet in order to receive the award are characteristics that describe John,” said Adrian Kowal, Director of Advancement at Gabriel Richard Catholic High School.

With assistance from the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, John’s family created and endowed the John Cameron Scholarship Fund to provide need-based tuition assistance to a graduating senior of Gabriel Richard Catholic High School who has been accepted to a community college, technical college or university and who exhibits a notable work ethic, has an entrepreneurial spirit, and is self-motivated.

When John’s mother, Geraldine Shewbridge, sisters Mary Cameron-Crone and Catherine Cameron-Heldt, and brother Tom Cameron were trying to decide where to send memorial gifts after John’s death, they remembered a comment John had made. John was concerned there were not scholarships for “the overlooked kid with untapped potential.”

“Losing our dear brother at such a young age has been difficult. Starting the endowed scholarship has given our family an opportunity to honor him and fulfill his wish to help students like himself.”
—Dr. Mary Cameron-Crone

John had said that if he were to have the opportunity, he would like to help this type of student. He recognized academic achievement alone does not predict success. John believed other qualities were important in the workplace too, including social skills, self-sacrifice, hard work, and perseverance. These values came out of John’s own life experience; he paid for his college tuition by working a night shift.

John’s parents prioritized Catholic education. They sacrificed to send four children through Catholic school from first through twelfth grades, even after John’s father died of cancer when John was 18. Knowing the challenges many families face, John’s siblings believed a scholarship for students at their alma mater, Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview, MI, would align with John’s vision.

“Losing our dear brother at such a young age has been difficult,” John’s sister Mary said. “John had a profound effect on many people. Starting the endowed scholarship has given our family an opportunity to honor him and fulfill his wish to help students like himself.”

Many of their friends and family have supported this scholarship and the Cameron family feels sure the scholarship would have delighted John. The experience has given them comfort in the midst of their grief.

“Working with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan has been a wonderful experience. Angela Moloney and her staff have guided us through the process and provided much support during our difficult time of grieving. We are thrilled to have established a lasting legacy to honor John,” Mary said.

At the school’s graduation ceremony on May 23, Principal Joe Whalen challenged students to consider the following question: “What will be your legacy?” It is a question that each of us may wish to ponder, as we reflect with gratitude on the beautiful gift that John Cameron’s legacy has left our community.