Posted on Oct 02, 2019

The late Zach Elder, Jimmy Ashby and Col. Willie H. Casper Jr. may be gone, but won't soon be forgotten. Rotary Club of Mineral Wells membership on Wednesday approved renaming three of its annual scholarship awards in their honor.


"This makes me, and all Rotarians, very happy to do this," said club President David May. "These three are held dearly in our hearts and now every year they will be remembered and honored by our club with the presentation of Rotary scholarships."


Besides its three Four-Way Speech contest scholarship prizes, Rotary Club of Mineral Wells annually gives four scholarships to Mineral Wells High School seniors who apply. They are awarded based on a point system following review by a scholarship committee. One scholarship is for $1,500, and three are for $1,000 each.


It is the three $1,000 scholarships that will be named in memoriam.


"We will look at allowing the community or family members and friends of these three to contribute to those scholarships as well," May said.


Willie Herbert Casper Jr., passed away June 1, 2014, at the age of 93. He was a 50-year Rotarian with perfect attendance. He was a retired colonel in the U.S. Army after 28 years of service. He retired as deputy commander of Fort Wolters. He served as the public relations officer of First National Bank for 15 years. He served for many years as a volunteer for Boyce Ditto Public Library and the Mineral Wells ISD. He served as mayor of Mineral Wells from 1986-92.

A lifelong resident of Mineral Wells, Jimmy Ashby was 76 when he passed earlier this year, on May 1, shortly after attending that week's Rotary Club meeting in which he was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow for his generous giving to the Rotary Foundation. Jimmy was a 47-year Rotarian. He graduated Mineral Wells High School in 1960. He attended Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University School of Law, earning his Bachelor of Arts (1965) and his Doctor of Jurisprudence (1970). Jim practiced law in Mineral Wells for nearly 50 years, serving as City Attorney (1973-1976), County Attorney (1977-1980, 2016-2019), and District Attorney (1981-1986). He was also Local Counsel for the Palo Pinto County Hospital District in 1995, serving proudly for 21 years.

Zach Elder is the son of Scott and Carol Elder. Scott Elder is a longtime member of Rotary Club of Mineral Wells. A Mineral Wells High School graduate, Zach was a 21-year-old engineering major attending his senior year Texas A&M University when his life was tragically cut short Sept. 13 in a wreck in Bryan.

The three scholarships will carry some additional weight for applicants who declare their intent to major in the areas of engineering for Elder's memorial scholarship; law for Ashby's memorial scholarship; and one who can display a high level of community and civic participation in honor of Casper.


"The idea for this came from Zach's passing," said May, who reached out to and received the blessing of the Elder family for naming a scholarship in honor of their son. "But then I realized we had at least a couple of other past Rotarians who, I felt, deserved to be honored and remembered as well. Being a club over 100 years old, there have been a lot of great Rotarians who have served this club and community, but for me Willie and Jimmy stood out for both their long lengths of service and their civic and professional involvement in Mineral Wells."

While Zach Elder was not a Rotarian, he is the son of a member.

"If you knew Zach, or were among the hundreds who attended his two services, you know he was a special young man of faith and character," May said. "Along with that, we hold Scott and Carol in very high regard for their work and contributions that help Mineral Wells a great city that is now growing and improving, and they have a large role in that. Their daughters, Mia and Allee, are in that same mold and possess those some qualities and characteristics. So we feel it is very appropriate to honor the Elder family and one of our own in this way."

May said regarding Casper and Ashby, "They were both such great men, great Rotarians and civic leaders. They loved Rotary Club and their fellow members. They were highly respected, ethical men who lived the Rotary Four-Way Test every day, in everything they did. Honoring them each with one of our scholarship awards was a no-brainer."

Presented with the idea and vote at Wednesday's meeting, the motion received several seconds and there was no hesitancy among members in voting their approval.

"This made for a special day for our club," May added. "I know it has for me."

Rotary Club of Mineral Wells meets every Wednesday at noon at Palo Pinto General Hospital for lunch, socializing with fellow members, updates on club news and events and a program of interest. To learn more about the club, visit or ask a Rotarian for more information and an invitation to an upcoming meeting.

UPDATE: We have already received two anonymous $500 donations to go toward the scholarship in Jimmy Ashby's name, making that a $2,000 scholarship award for 2020.