In April 2016, a man helped Leon Matheny to the speaker’s platform in the Alumni Gymnasium at Ohio Valley University. Leon prayed on behalf of the lectureship crowd and wept as he recounted the giant steps that the university had taken over the years. A few weeks later he passed away.
Ironically, the man whose faltering steps led him to the podium that night had been the man who helped the school take some of its first faltering steps.
Efforts to begin a Christian college in the northeastern part of the United States began in the early 1950s. A ledger noted all the contributions toward the new school. Among the first eight names is Leon Matheny.
A planning committee to move the idea of a school to reality formed on November 28, 1955. The seven-member group included Leon Matheny.
On December 6, 1957, the members of the Ohio Educational Foundation voted unanimously to locate the new school in Parkersburg, W.Va. Leon Matheny voted for that location. When the new school became incorporated on February 28, 1958, Leon Matheny was part of the Board of Trustees.
Two men took leadership roles in moving from a Foundation to a College. Clifton Inman and Leon Matheny worked together until the College began and appointed Don Gardner as the first president.
Just as Leon Matheny helped Ohio Valley University take some of its first steps and just as an anonymous man assisted Leon Matheny in some of his last steps, both remind us that we all depend on others.
We who serve today in Christian education deeply appreciate those, including Leon Matheny, who led the way.