Such a Lot of World to See: Bill and Lenore Pursch

September 18, 2012

"Moon River” is their song.

Bill and Lenore* Pursch danced to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s classic at their wedding more than 44 years ago, and true to the lyrics, they have lived their lives as “two drifters off to see the world. Such a lot of world to see.”

Bill and Lenore, raised but a few blocks apart in Camden, N.J., and now living in Springfield, Ohio, have traveled to 62 countries and 47 states. Thanks primarily to Bill’s distinguished military career and assignments in Okinawa and Germany, they have moved 22 times and lived more than seven years abroad. Bill also served a tour in Vietnam before returning the family to the United States. By then, their daughter, Wendy, was in tow. Daughter Heidi arrived a few years later while Bill was working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

“Heidi definitely let us know that she was the only true Buckeye in the family,” Bill said, referring to her birthplace. “At the time she arrived, I was finishing my first quarter at Ohio State, where I was pursuing a doctorate in education and commuting from Dayton.” Bill graduated in 1982 and admits the challenges in completing the degree were worthwhile. “Having that diploma made all the difference for my career and opened many doors.”

About that time, Bill and Lenore began making annual gifts to Ohio State that established the William D. Dowling Fund for Adult Education, now a part of the College of Education and Human Ecology, in honor of Bill’s mentor. The Purschs received recognition by the President’s Club for their generosity. To reach the needed fundraising goal, the couple successfully led efforts to promote the fund among Dowling’s colleagues and students. 

Both daughters followed in their parents’ educational footsteps—their mom earned degrees from Ursinus College and Villanova University—with Wendy graduating from Wright State University and Heidi earning a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Just before Heidi’s graduation, though, she called to share news of being chosen to study landscape architecture in England. The downside was delaying graduation. “I was happy to finance another quarter for her because it was the perfect chance for Heidi to learn about English gardens,” Bill said. 

As with education, the Purschs were happy to finance their daughters’ weddings. These are memories they now hold dear; both Wendy and Heidi suffered from undetected heart problems. Tragically, their conditions took their lives not long after they each married.

In tribute to their daughters, the couple has created a legacy by endowing the Pursch Family Memorial Fund, which provides study-abroad scholarships in horticulture and crop science, with students studying in England receiving priority. They have also funded a charitable gift annuity that will benefit Ohio State and provide fixed payments during their lifetime.

These days, the Purschs remain active by attending as many Ohio State football games as they can. Lenore also helps with online event registration for the university’s Chadwick Arboretum.

“We make every day count,“ Bill said. “With such a lot of world to see, we sure put a dent in it.”

*Lenore Pursch passed away on January 8, 2012, at the age of 67. To make a gift in her memory, please click here.

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