Since 2000, the Wilkes-Desmond Educational Foundation has provided nearly 2,210 students from Clyde-Savannah Jr.-Sr. High School and Sodus Central High School with approximately $5.6 million dollars towards their tuition.
The Wilkes-Desmond Educational Foundation offers a scholarship unlike any other. Specifically for the students of Clyde-Savannah Junior-Senior and Sodus Central High School, the Wilkes-Desmond scholarship inspires students to receive a higher education. With no criteria based on academic or athletic achievement, it encourages all students to graduate from high school and continue their studies. Students who receive the scholarship can attend a technical school, community college, state college, or university anywhere in the country.
When former Clyde-Savannah Junior-Senior High School principal, Anthony Patanzo, heard about the Wilkes-Desmond scholarship, he was skeptical: "I'll believe it when I see it." His reservations were justified; no scholarship gives so generously. To understand why a special scholarship exists, Mr. Patanzo needed only to know about William C. Desmond.
Mr. Desmond graduated from Clyde High School in 1917. He then left home to study forestry in college, afterwards returning to West Genesee Street to marry Sodus graduate Sarah Wilkes. He continued to work in the timber industry, buying a supply company in Sodus Center. His early years with Sarah bound him to the Sodus and Clyde area. After Sarah died in 1961, he eventually remarried and moved to West Palm Beach, FL. He never forgot his life in New York.
After moving to Florida, Mr. Desmond established the Foundation in 1986. Upon the death of Mr. Desmond in 1990 and his second wife in 1999, the Foundation went into action. The graduating classes of Sodus Central High School and Clyde-Savannah Junior-Senior High School received the first scholarships in the year 2000.
Mr. Patanzo finally believed the generosity of the scholarship once he knew Mr. Desmond's story. The loving tribute to his first wife defines the spirit of the Wilkes-Desmond Educational Foundation.
Any Sodus Central High or Clyde-Savannah Jr.-Sr. High School graduate who plans to attend an accredited institution of higher learning is eligible for a tuition scholarship. The award does not cover incidental expenses such as housing, food, travel, books, and other student fees.