Our Stories

Legacy Gift Transforming Nechako Lakes Communities

Reuben and Janet Horwitz understood the value of a university education. The couple bequeathed nearly $750,000 to the University of Northern British Columbia to support students from Fort St. James and other communities in the Nechako Lakes region. The endowed memorial awards will help at least eight students every year, forever, with bursaries worth $3,000 each, providing an incredible legacy to these communities and the future of their children.

August 28, 2017
Sydney Thompson
Sydney Thompson, from Fort St. James, is beginning her studies at UNBC in the fall of 2017. She is one of the recipients of the Reuben Horwitz Memorial Bursary, an award funded by a legacy gift to help students from Fort. James and surrounding communities.

When Reuben and Janet Horwitz obtained their university degrees, they were the exception.

The couple, who graduated in 1923 and 1939 respectively, went to university at a time when only about one in 10 people completed a four-year degree program. That decision to pursue their post-secondary education had a profound impact on their lives and opened doors to professional success and personal growth.

After they passed on, the Horwitzes wanted to leave an educational legacy in their adopted hometown of Fort St. James. Through an estate contribution to the Northern Leadership Campaign, the Horwitzes are inspiring next-generation leaders by supporting scholarship and bursary growth.

The couple bequeathed nearly $750,000 to the University of Northern British Columbia to support students from Fort St. James and other communities in the Nechako Lakes region. The endowed awards will help at least eight students every year, forever, with bursaries worth $3,000 each, providing an incredible legacy to these communities and the future of their children.

“Reuben and Janet believed that education was the key to opening the doors of life leading to fulfillment and happiness,” says Don Boult, a close family friend. “If their legacy can give a few young people the opportunity to reach their full potential, then I think their wishes would have come true.”

The Reuben Horwitz Memorial Bursary, created after Janet passed away in 2014, and began helping UNBC students from Fort St. James and surrounding communities in the fall of 2016. Reuben predeceased Janet in 1989, one year before the founding of UNBC.

“They knew people from all walks of life when they lived in Fort St. James and they understood how scholarships and bursaries could help students and families for whom a university education seemed to be out of reach,” Boult says.

One of the most recent recipients of the award is Sydney Thompson. A member of the Fort St. James Secondary School Class of 2017, Thompson is entering UNBC this fall to study Integrated Science.

“Receiving this award means a lot and it will make my school year much easier,” Thompson says. “Thanks to this award, I will not have to worry about how I am going to pay for my tuition, which will allow me to keep my focus on my schoolwork.”

The award helped Thompson solidify her decision to attend Canada’s top-ranked small university.

Jessica Woskett of Burns Lake received the award when she began her studies at UNBC in January. She had taken a semester off to work two jobs and save money and said the bursary made a big impact in helping her finance her education.

During her first semester at UNBC, she took courses from a diverse set of programs and discovered her passion for ecology. She is now pursuing a degree in Natural Resources Management, with a major in Outdoor Recreation and Conservation.

“The Horwitz family and all donors who support student awards are making it easier for students from Northern B.C. to study close to home,” says Woskett. “I am very grateful for their kindness and generosity.”

The endowed award will continue to help UNBC students for generations to come.

The Horwitzes first moved to Fort St. James in 1955 and Reuben built their home on Stuart Lake. The couple loved the northern lifestyle and developed close friendships with people in the community.

“Living in a log cabin that they built with their own hands beside a beautiful lake among friends from all walks of life were the happiest years of their lives,” Boult recalls. “Their university educations provided them with the prosperity to be able to live their dreams.”

Reuben graduated from the engineering program at Pennsylvania State University in 1923, while Janet earned an undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in 1939.

After a successful career as an engineer in Portland, Reuben and Janet retired to Fort St. James. They lived in Northern B.C. full time for a decade, and spent their summers in the community for another 30 years.

“Reuben and Janet would be thrilled that they have been able to help outstanding students attend UNBC,” Boult says. “I do not think they thought that it would be possible to help so many students every year.”

Share This