Merwin and Villa Spencer Scholarship

The Southern Illinois Community Foundation ( in partnership with the Murphysboro District 186 Education Foundation has received a $520,000 charitable gift from the estate of Lila Spencer Neilsen to establish a Scholarship Endowment Fund for college bound Murphysboro High School Students. The Fund will honor Lila Spencer Neilsen’s parents by establishing the “Merwin and Villa Spencer Scholarship Fund”.  Villa Spencer, born in Alto Pass and raised in Murphysboro, was a kindergarten teacher at the Longfellow School in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.  Merwin Spencer was born in Oraville, IL in 1892 and died in 1970. He worked as a dispatcher and telegraph agent for the railroad. The family honors the work of Merwin and Villa Spencer in their community through their support of a Murphysboro student.


Since 2000 the Southern Illinois Community Foundation (, has served the 17 southern most counties of Illinois, holding and managing charitable funds dedicated to community charitable purposes according to The Council on Foundations’ ( National Standards for Community Foundations.


If you or a relative would like to explore creating a charitable fund to benefit our regions’ community needs, contact Janice Horn Clayton at 618-997-3700 or Janice @

Southern Illinois Community Foundation
3000 W. DeYoung St., Suite 800B
Marion, IL 62959

Phone : 618.997.3700


© Southern Illinois Community Foundation