ROANOKE, Va. —
The estate of Ralph and Virginia “Ginny” McBride Roth has established an endowed scholarship fund in the memory of their daughter at her alma mater.
The Sheila Diane Roth ’66 Leadership Scholarship will provide financial assistance to a student or students from Boyd or Greenup who wish to attend Hollins University and participate in Hollins’ Batten Leadership Institute, or to currently enrolled students from those counties who successfully complete the Batten Leadership Skills course and intend to earn the certificate of leadership studies at the university. If there is no qualified student from those counties, all Kentucky residents will be eligible. In the event those criteria are not met, the scholarship will be awarded to any qualified student.
“The total of the donation to Hollins was almost $2 million,” said estate executor Rudy Dunnigan of Ashland. “These funds will be invested and the earnings will fund the scholarships.”
The Roths came to Ashland in 1962 and Ralph Roth, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine who performed his residency at Johns Hopkins, practiced and taught radiology in the area for 48 years. He was a member of the medical staff at King’s Daughters Medical Center from 1962 through 1980 and at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital from 1981 through 1986. He served on the faculty at the School of Allied Health at Shawnee State University (1986 through 1990) and at the Marshall University School of Medicine (1990 through 2001). From 2001 until his death in 2007, he practiced in the radiology department at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Huntington.
Early in his career he was commanded to appear before the queen of England to be honored for cancer research he performed at London’s Middlesex Hospital.
Ralph and Ginny Roth, who died in 2010, were married for 63 years. “She was his ever-present life companion and helpmate, a gracious lady,” Dunnigan recalled. “They were the definition of genteel behavior and the model for successful marriage.”
Sheila, their only child, graduated from Hollins in 1966 with a degree in English and had a career as a professional model. She was killed at 40 by an alcohol-impaired driver.
“Many believe the Roths never really recovered from that tragedy. They spent the rest of their lives aiding young people who needed help with their educational expenses. I was one of those young people,” said Dunnigan, a dentist and author who served two terms as mayor of Ashland.
“The Roths were certainly among those who contributed so much to our community, and with these scholarships will continue to be remembered by many of us,” he said.
“Special people do special things and the Roths were very special.”
Along with offering the scholarship fund in her name, Hollins will display in perpetuity a portrait of Sheila Roth, painted by the acclaimed artist Peter Stevens in 1963.
Hollins is an independent liberal arts university offering undergraduate education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women and community outreach initiatives. Founded in 1842, Hollins is Virginia’s oldest chartered women’s college and features a nationally recognized creative writing program, is ranked among the country’s “25 Colleges with the Best Professors” by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and was named by the Princeton Review as one of the best colleges in the Southeast and one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education.