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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship established to support “Eva Strong” Portville students

The phrase “Eva Strong” may have resonated most during Eva Taggerty’s battle with cancer, but those who knew her know that she lived her entire life Eva Strong.

The recently established Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship Fund will ensure that the “Eva Strong” mentality lives on by supporting area students that share Eva’s perseverance, dedication to community, citizenship and character.

According to her daughter, Beth Taggerty, who established the fund in her mother’s memory, Eva gave her all to the things she loved, including her career in construction, her family and her community.

“Nothing stood in Eva’s way. She could and would do anything she put her mind to,” said Beth. “At a young age she began to help her dad, Bernard, do small construction jobs around the Portville area. As she grew older her love for the construction industry deepened.”

Out of that love, Eva decided to attend BOCES and studied electrical engineering, despite being the only female student in that class.

Beth recalls her mother telling her she had a little bit of fear, being the only female, but she loved construction and just had to tackle the course and any stereotypes that were around. She followed her heart, not the crowd. She never cared what others thought, she lived her life as she saw fit, with pride and integrity.

At 16, she dove into the retail lumber industry, following in her father’s footsteps at Olean Lumber. She remainder there until it closed, never losing her love and passion for the construction industry. Following the close of operations at Olean Lumber, she began working for Close’s Lumber of Olean, until her illness prevented her from continuing.

“She loved going to work every day,” said Beth. “She strived on being able to help her customers achieve their building needs. She was always willing to offer advice or a helping hand. She would go above and beyond to ensure a happy, satisfied customer. Their projects were her projects.”

And so the Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship, established at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, will make possible an annual scholarship for graduating seniors of Portville Central School who plan to seek a two- or four-year degree in a construction industry-related career/technical field.

Preference will be given to female students, students who have attended BOCES or students who are planning to attend Alfred State College.

Student will be asked to include in their application goal statement why they have a passion for their chosen career/degree choice. Applicants should demonstrate academic promise and be involved in extracurricular activities at school or in the community. They should display good citizenship, moral character and kindness toward others. They also should display a positive attitude and possess leadership abilities.

Beth thought it important to include a consideration of character and citizenship as part of the scholarship because, she said, her mother shared the same fire for community and giving back as she had for her career.

“Eva loved her community and family just as much as she loved the construction industry,” said Taggerty. “She was always willing to help a function that helped others.”

Taggerty said her mother was a devoted member of the American Legion Auxiliary and Weston Mills Fire Department. She often volunteered her time at fundraisers and special events that raised money to support those in need.

It was during her battle with cancer that a name was given to the attitude and ethic that pervaded throughout Eva’s life, Beth said.

“During her battle with cancer others started saying ‘Eva strong,’” Taggerty recalled. “It was so fitting. She continued to work as she battled cancer. She still volunteered and did everything she could until she could not.”

Eva Taggerty passed away July 30, 2018, but this scholarship fund will ensure her legacy will live on for years to come.

“This scholarship is set up to continue the legacy she left behind and continue developing ‘Eva strong’ individuals,” added Taggerty.

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit said that the Foundation is honored to play a role in perpetuating the ethos of such a strong-willed, passionate and loving woman.

“Eva’s story is one of those that particularly touches your heart,” said Buchheit. “We are proud to be able to ensure that the ‘Eva strong’ individuals at Portville Central School receive the needed support to chase their dreams in the same way Eva did.”

Donations can be made to the Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, or online at cattfoundation.org.

For 25 years, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation has been the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email foundation@cattfoundation.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

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