The Charles and Dorothy Ainlay Scholarship

When Charles Ainlay was a student at Goshen College, in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, he helped pay for his education with a variety of on-campus jobs.  One of these was firing the furnace in the basement of the Administration Building.  The job took four to six hours, but required only periodic attention to the furnace.  The rest of the time Charles spent hunched under a single dim bulb in the corner, reading and studying.  “I spent a number of pleasant hours that way,” he said.  “And I was getting paid for it.”

Perhaps that story exemplifies best the attitude of that young Charles Ainlay.  A passionate interest in his studies and an unflinching willingness to work hard were brought together in him at an early age.  The combination served him well over the years, and the community of Goshen and Goshen College have reaped benefits from it too.

When Charles was a high school student, in Mishawaka, Indiana, he caught the attention of his speech and debate teacher Roy Umble, himself a recent graduate of Goshen College.  Might Charles consider Goshen?  Roy wanted to know.  Well, Charles was not a Mennonite and his family was not well off financially, but Roy arranged for Charles to visit the campus and meet his father, John Umble, director of varsity debate and oratory.  The elder Umble saw to it that Charles received a scholarship and on-campus work, and even arranged that the young man might come to his house for meals instead of eating in the cafeteria.  With help like that, Charles was able to attend college.

The skills in debate and public speaking Charles had begun to discover in high school quickly came to flower at Goshen, as did his capacity for leadership.  In addition to his outstanding academic record, he was class president for four years, co-editor of the Record his senior year, an officer of the YPCA, a member of the outstanding varsity intercollegiate debate team and, in his sophomore year, winner of the local, state and national peace oratorical contests.

After graduation he received his masters from American University, and the degree of Juris Doctor at the University of Notre Dame School of Law.  He was one of the senior partners in the Goshen law firm of Yoder, Ainlay, Ulmer & Buckingham.

Charles married Dorothy Breunlin in 1942, a year after he graduated from Goshen.  She worked as a “very able secretary” during his graduate school years, and devoted much of her life to the raising of the Ainlays’ five children.

The Ainlays established this scholarship for several reasons, “It seemed appropriate first of all,” Charles said, “to give someone a hand up in a small way, in the same way I was helped.  Also, I believe the ability to communicate well has real meaning for success in all areas of life.  In business…in just about everything.  People who know how to communicate are best able to lead.”

Hard work, clear communication, responsible leadership–those are some qualities Charles Ainlay developed in himself over the years.  Goshen College is lucky for its long relationship with him, and now future students of communication will benefit from that relationship as well.  Charles died on October 9, 2004 and Dorothy died October 24, 2011.