The Oklahoma State University Foundation announced the receipt of a trust gift totaling more than $700,000 from the estate of Salvatore “Silver” Tesone to fund the Betsy Tesone Endowed Scholarship benefiting architecture students.
The Betsy Tesone Endowed Scholarship will be awarded annually to a full-time student enrolled in a discipline within the School of Architecture who demonstrates both merit and financial need.
Silver Tesone was an Italian immigrant born in 1899 in Castel Leone, Italy. At age eight he migrated to Krebs, Okla., then a small mining community, with his family. Tesone enrolled in Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College before he was shipped off to fight in World War I. At the end of the war, Capt. Tesone returned to Oklahoma A&M and resumed his studies before graduating with a degree in architecture in 1921.
Tesone’s first priority was to ensure his daughter, Betsy, who was born with cerebral palsy, would always be financially secure. Thus he established a trust to provide for her care stipulating that upon her death half of the remaining sum would go to the OSU School of Architecture.
Spending most of her life in a wheelchair, Betsy’s disability inspired Tesone in his work at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, where he helped draft early standards for handicapped access in buildings.
“Tesone was very handy, smart and a tinkerer,” said Henry Fountain, Tesone’s nephew and estate trustee. “He built special furniture, outfitted the bathroom at their house and rigged up a system in an old Volkswagen bus; all to make life easier for Betsy.”
Betsy, who lived for the last 35 years in a Connecticut nursing home, died last summer at age 65.