Creating a Family Legacy at TMCC

Briana Soloski
Mary Heine and Inez Johnson Image

Mary Heine and Inez Johnson Dibble

A native Nevadan, Mary Heine spent 54 years in Las Vegas, many of those as a social worker for Clark County, before retiring to Reno. In retirement, she loves to spend time with her daughter and two grandchildren. Because Nevada has given so much to Mary and her family, she now wants to give a little bit back; she’s doing so in the form of scholarships at Truckee Meadows Community College.

In 2015, Mary’s mom, Inez Johnson Dibble, was living with her while recovering from a fractured fibula and the two were discussing what to do with what remained of Inez’s estate. Before her death in 2015 at 98-1/2 years old, Inez led a very full life: she originally hitchhiked to Nevada after becoming a widow at 22 years old, but left Nevada for a time to attend nursing school before joining the Cadet Nurses Corp. Afterwards, she returned to Las Vegas where she had a long career as a nurse, served on the State Board of Nursing in the 1950s, and raised her family. For both Mary and Inez, establishing a scholarship at TMCC for nursing students was an ideal way to honor Inez’s legacy. For the rest of the family, the establishment of the scholarship provided comfort and a positive way to deal with their grief. Mary recently established the Melvin and Violet Burdick Scholarship to honor her aunt and uncle, a general scholarship where the prevailing factor for eligible students is need. Throughout the entire process, Mary said, “the Foundation folks were helpful and inclusive.”

Mary hopes the Inez Johnson Dibble Endowment and the Melvin and Violet Burdick Scholarship will be a way for her to honor her loved ones. As a former social worker, Mary has seen hundreds of children who need assistance in breaking the cycle of poverty. One of the things she appreciates most about TMCC is the ethnic diversity she saw when attending the Legacy Scholarship Reception last October.

Mary is inspired to give to TMCC, in part because the TMCC Foundation does such a good job connecting the donors and students. The Legacy Scholarship Reception held each fall is one example of that connection. Each October, students who receive a scholarship have an opportunity to come together with the donors who made those scholarships possible, thanking them in person for the gift that made their education a reality. It gives both donors and students a chance to feel more connected to the college and to the community.

When asked what advice she might have for aspiring college students, Mary is a firm believer in the fact that no one can take your education away from you. She believes this is especially true for women and sees education as a way for women to become better providers for their families.

For someone interested in starting an endowment or scholarship with the TMCC Foundation, she can’t say enough about the positive impact it can have on one’s life, “especially if you do it for someone you love.” She feels the rewards are monumental. She admits starting an endowment or scholarship is something of a financial commitment, but one a person of average means can make and the student gratitude is unbelievable. As the first in her family to complete college and reap the benefits of doing so, Mary feels it is time to give back. As she said, “leaving a bequest is important, but it’s also fun to see [the money] at work now.”

For more information on starting an endowment or scholarship, contact Tara Hawkins with the TMCC Foundation at 775-673-7127.