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Vet’s family establishes scholarship

Scholarship for MCC students made in honor of Korean War veteran

Mary Beth Siddons (center) shows MCC student veterans a photo of her father, Harrison V. Siddons, as a Great Lakes Naval Academy graduate in 1948. The Siddons family established a new scholarship in his name, to be awarded to an MCC student veteran for the upcoming fall semester.
Mary Beth Siddons (center) shows MCC student veterans a photo of her father, Harrison V. Siddons, as a Great Lakes Naval Academy graduate in 1948. The Siddons family established a new scholarship in his name, to be awarded to an MCC student veteran for the upcoming fall semester.

The family of Korean War veteran Harrison V. Siddons looks to honor the legacy of his lifelong dedication to the United States, his commitment to education and support of all veterans by awarding a new scholarship to a McHenry County College student beginning in the fall 2018 semester.

The Harrison V. Siddons Memorial Veterans Scholarship will provide up to $1,500 to an MCC student veteran who served in the U.S. military with an honorable discharge and is enrolled full time. One unique aspect of this scholarship is that it is renewable for up to five semesters, as long as the student maintains the minimum GPA and credit hours.

Coming from a humble beginning in rural northern Wisconsin, Siddons lived in McHenry County for more than 40 years and, along with his wife, Betty, raised four children. Three of the four siblings and their mother still live in the area.

“He was a huge fan of MCC, and he’d encourage all four of us to get our associate degrees at MCC,” said his daughter, Mary Beth Siddons. “He expected a lot from us and set high standards for us to push ourselves professionally, personally and ethically.

With her father as a role model, Mary Beth Siddons also has accomplished much. She became one of the first five recipients of the MCC Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. She earned an associate degree in criminal justice then transferred to Northern Illinois University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology.

She is a charter member of MCC’s Education to Empowerment scholarship program for female students and serves on the board of directors for the Make A Wish Foundation of Illinois. She works as a sector president of retail solutions for the Marmon Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.

Harrison Siddons, the fourth oldest of 11 children, joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, graduating from Great Lakes Naval Training Center in 1948. He served aboard the USS Worchester, which played a critical role in the Korean War effort and saved countless American lives. He earned ribbons and awards while attaining the rank of petty officer first class at age 21. He received an honorable discharge in 1957, and throughout the rest of his life, he supported veterans’ causes and volunteered time and funding for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

After military service, Harrison Siddons completed his engineering degree from the University of Houston and joined Rocketdyne Corp. in California, where he worked on the development and installation of America’s ballistic missile systems. He later was hired as one of the first eight engineers on the NASA Apollo program and was assigned as the test facility engineer for the Saturn V rocket. During his tenure as a test facility engineer, he received a “Man of the Year” award for performance above and beyond the call of duty.

After the Apollo program sent the first astronauts to the moon, Harrison Siddons joined Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1969 as a civilian point of contact during the construction of America’s nuclear submarine fleet.

In 1976, Harrison joined Northrop Corp. in Rolling Meadows, where his career spanned 20 years, serving as a senior project manager for numerous defense programs. He died in October 2006 at age 75.

“The military and civilian careers of our Dad was marked by dedication, perseverance, innovation and excellence,” Mary Beth Siddons said. “He never compromised his principles and consistently improved the performance of all around him by example and leadership. ... He rose to the heights of achievement by will and effort, yet he was very humble. Doing something for veterans epitomizes who he is. He loved his country and dedicated his life to its betterment.”

When asked what her father would say about a veteran’s scholarship named after him, Mary Beth Siddons said, “He would say, ‘That’s just wonderful.’ ”

To qualify for the Harrison V. Siddons Memorial Scholarship, an applicant must maintain a 2.0 GPA and provide proof of GPA each semester. The applicant must submit a 500-word essay that highlights why he/she joined the military, what they learned in the military and what they are now doing to support the community and/or fellow veterans.

Scholarship applications for fall 2018 are being reviewed, and a recipient will be named in June. For information about McHenry County College scholarships, contact the Friends of MCC Foundation Office at 815-455-8721 or send an email to foundation@mchenry.edu or visit www.mchenry.edu/scholarships.

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