News and Publications

Caesar Rodney High School Pals Awarded the John A. & Marion B. Smitheman Scholarship

Back to Archive
High school pals Rocky Li and Evan McCleary were delighted and surprised to learn that they both received a $20,000 John A. & Marion B. Smitheman Scholarship from the DCF this year.

The Caesar Rodney High School graduates are now roommates and mechanical engineering students at the University of Delaware.

“I didn’t know that Evan had also won the scholarship until they announced it at the high school awards ceremony,” Rocky said. “It was such an incredible night for both of us. I couldn’t believe it at first.”

The DCF scholarship is helping Rocky and Evan pursue education in engineering with less debt, enabling them to not only attend college, but to thrive as they focus on their grades and participate in extracurricular activities.

“I want to say thank you to all of the donors who made this scholarship possible for Rocky and me,” Evan said. “I’m extremely appreciative to have won such an outstanding scholarship, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”

The Smitheman Scholarship was established by Ned Smitheman, whose legacy still benefits Delaware students today, even after his passing 18 years ago.

In 1993, Smitheman found two rare wooden duck decoys in his parents’ attic, and sold them for $90,750. As a graduate of UD with a degree in engineering, Smitheman used the money from the sale of the decoys to open an endowed scholarship fund in his parents’ names at the DCF.

The Smitheman Fund has awarded over $130,000 to students since 1994. The scholarship is awarded each year to a graduating senior of a Kent County High School, pursuing an engineering degree at any Delaware institution. Each $20,000 scholarship is given in $5,000 increments over the span of four years.

“Scholarships create meaningful opportunities for students to succeed in higher education,” DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said. “We are proud to be home to the Smitheman Endowment Fund, which serves as an example of generous people supporting students for generations to come.

The DCF awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year, thanks to generous donors who care about education. The application process opens in December each year. For more information about DCF scholarships, visit