Spirit of the Gift Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's endowed funds

Edith and Harry Darby Foundation Scholarship Fund

Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Harry Darby spent his summers in Abilene, playing sandlot ball with boyhood friend, Dwight Eisenhower. He earned his degree in engineering from the University of Illinois, taking over the family business, the Missouri Boiler Works, in 1923. Expanding the business into steel manufacturing, he created Darby Corporation. He served on the Kansas State Highway Commission from 1933-37 and was chosen as the GOP's National Committeeman from Kansas in 1940, a post he held for 24 years. From 1949-50, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate. When longtime friend, General Eisenhower, agreed to run for president in 1952, Mr. Darby led the campaign.

Harry and Edith Darby were married for 63 years, until her death in 1980. Mr. Darby passed away in 1987, establishing through his estate, the Edith and Harry Darby Foundation Scholarship Fund at WSU, having "highest regards" for the accomplishments of the university. In 1990, highway 635 at the Kansas-Missouri state line was designated the Harry Darby Memorial Highway.