Fran and Betty Gilreath in 1968
A new merit-based scholarship has been endowed to honor the life and work of Frances “Fran” Emily Gilreath, a 1970 graduate of the BSN program at the SON. The scholarship will support tuition, fees, books, and other education-related expenses for an undergraduate nursing student under conditions in which circumstances might jeopardize the student’s ability to achieve his or her dream of receiving the degree.
Fran grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina with her parents J. Frank Gilreath, Jr. and Betty Collins Gilreath, and her brother John Franklin Gilreath, III. Religion was very important to Fran. Much of her childhood and life was centered on her church, St. John’s Baptist. Her favorite activities were the choir and missionary organizations. Fran was also interested in nursing from an early age, and volunteered at Presbyterian Hospital during her high school years.
Fran began her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in nursing at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1966, after graduating from South Mecklenburg High School. She worked as a nurse at Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children for almost two years, at Mundo Vista camp during a summer, and finally at Duke University Hospital. She was in a tragic accident on her way to work there in April of 1973.
In 1974, her parents established an expendable scholarship in Fran’s name at the SON to help nursing students. They contributed annually to this scholarship for thirty-seven years, and helped an enormous number of students achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse.
Recently, the family has decided to create an endowment fund for the Frances Emily Gilreath Nursing Scholarship, so that future generations of Carolina nurses can receive support in Fran’s name in perpetuity.