Alumni Spotlight

Joyce, ’91, and Phil Blake, ‘92

By: Phil and Joyce Blake
January 12, 2017

“It continues to astound me that a few years of difficult education combined with hard work can pay such huge dividends for one’s lifetime.” – William Green, Patent Attorney, Duquesne University Law, 1963

After hearing this comment from Bill Green, I began to reflect upon the tremendous gift Joyce and I received from Pikeville College. A gift that provided a positive impact for our three sons as well.

A pivotal decision in our lives was moving to Pikeville in 1985 as a member of the staff at WPKE/WDHR. Under the tutelage of Walter May and my colleagues at the radio stations, the Blake family (numbering three initially) was quickly assimilated into the community.

Following the birth of our second son in 1986, Joyce and I (neither of whom finished college at the traditional age) began to question what the future would hold for our children if we didn’t complete our educations. In 1987, on the advice of The Reverend Dr. Eddie Grigsby, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pikeville, I secured a meeting with Pikeville College President Bill Owens. President Owens offered me a job raising funds to sustain the college and support student scholarships. This offer was contingent upon my completing my degree by taking nine hours per semester while also working full-time. President Owens also encouraged Joyce to complete her degree and both of us would receive a full tuition waiver. We were the grateful recipients of the vision and generosity of others. Being able to assist others with their philanthropic planning and witnessing the joy they receive by assisting future generations has been inspiring. As Joyce and I revised our estate plan a few years ago, we agreed that 10 percent of our estate should be shared after our deaths with the church, Duquesne University, and the University of Pikeville. These three institutions made a profound difference in our lives.

Joyce earned her nursing degree in 1991 (after also giving birth to our third son) and has served the past fifteen years as a hospice nurse, providing care to terminally ill patients in their homes and support to their family. Being the slower of the two of us, I graduated in 1992 with a degree in human services and began a career with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in fundraising. In 2008, I accepted a position with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as a gift planning officer (raising funds for scholarships for students once again.)

Joyce and I were each reared on working farms, she on a tobacco and cattle farm near Morehead, Ky., and me on a grain, cattle and hog farm in Indiana. (Yes, we are a house divided when it comes to college basketball.)

While it has been several years since our last visit to Pikeville, we hope to remedy that situation within the next year or two. Not a month passes that one of us doesn’t mention something or someone from Pikeville. Nursing instructor Marlene Waller along with the entire nursing faculty had a profound impact on Joyce. The late Edith Walker was a wonderful mentor to me. We have enjoyed watching the career of Donnie Jones, a wonderful person, coach and outstanding point guard.

We were asked about our parents all of whom are deceased with the exception of Elizabeth Kidd Trent of Morehead, Joyce's mother. As of today we have yet to be blessed with grandchildren. Justin, our oldest, has attended Embry-Riddle University and needs a few more hours to earn his degree. In the meantime, he is an accomplished carpenter. Our middle son, Richmond, graduated from Davidson College and the Kennedy School at Harvard. Since graduation, Richmond has served in the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer in Bolivia and currently as a policy advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights in Washington, D.C. Austin, our third son, attended Morehead State University and has built a home on the farm were his mother was reared. Austin works for an electrical and plumbing contractor in Morehead and is engaged to a wonderful woman (a nurse) with a beautiful four-year-old daughter, so we will soon be grandparents.

There has never been a better time to be a UPIKE Bear! APPLY NOW
UPike Tigers