September 29, 2021


Carly Colombo 

[email protected]

Horatio Alger Association Mourns the Passing of Longtime Board Member Walter Scott Jr.

The Association honors Walter Scott Jr. (’97), who passed away on September 25 following decades of leadership and philanthropy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 29, 2021) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, mourns the passing of Walter Scott Jr. (’97), Association Chairman Emeritus and Endowment Fund Chairman and President. Mr. Scott passed away on September 25 at the age of 90.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1931, Mr. Scott dedicated much of his life to giving back to the city he called home. After graduating from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Mr. Scott moved back to Omaha to join Kiewit Sons’ Inc., a privately-held construction company. He started as an engineer and eventually became chairman and chief executive officer in 1979. Under his leadership, Kiewit grew exponentially, becoming the seventh-largest construction company in America at the time of Scott’s retirement in 1998.

In 1997, Mr. Scott was inducted into the Association as a lifetime Member and began serving on the Board in 1999. In his nearly 25 years as an integral part of the Association, Mr. Scott served in various leadership roles, including senior executive vice president (2000), president (2000-2004), chairman (2004-2006) and chairman emeritus (2006-2021).

“Mr. Scott wasn’t just a Member of the Association, he was a driving force behind our mission and scholarship programs,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “He supported our organization as we worked to expand our support of deserving young people and was instrumental in establishing the Horatio Alger Association of Canada. Mr. Scott also brought more than a dozen wonderful Members into the Association, including our current president elect, Greg Abel (’18). He has left a long-lasting imprint on us that will never be forgotten.”

Already having a long-standing reputation in his home state as a generous philanthropist, Mr. Scott and his partner, Suzanne Scott, funded the first Horatio Alger State Scholarships in Nebraska in 2000. He felt passionately that the program should be in every state and personally supported numerous State Scholarship programs until it became the responsibility of the Horatio Alger Endowment Fund. Mr. Scott was a driving force behind the Fund’s creation as a separate 501(c)(3) and helped it reach a goal of $250 million raised. He continued to lead the Fund and ensure its success, serving as chair and president until his passing.

“Walter had a unique ability to identify areas of need and pinpoint solutions that would positively impact as many students as possible,” said David L. Sokol, chairman emeritus, Horatio Alger Association and 2004 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “He understood how important education is in a person’s life and believed deeply in supporting the ‘Whole Scholar,’ meaning he saw our involvement in our Scholars’ lives as more than just providing money for tuition. Walter knew our Scholars would benefit the most from college preparatory courses, access to internships and resources to strengthen their emotional well-being. I am grateful and fortunate to have had the pleasure of working alongside someone as generous and caring as Walter.”

An ardent supporter of all forms of higher education, Mr. Scott recognized the importance of career and technical education (CTE) options, partnering with Dean Cortopassi (’05) to create a pilot program that awarded CTE scholarships in 2014. In 2016, Mr. Scott provided the Association with a gift, matched by the Endowment Fund, that awarded 510 CTE scholarships nationwide. The following year, he doubled his support to provide more than 1,000 CTE scholarships.

Due to his consistent support and leadership, the Association awarded Mr. Scott with its highest honor, the Norman Vincent Peale Award, in 2009. The Walter Scott, Jr., Visionary Leadership Award was created in his name in 2017 to recognize his continuous support and vision.

“We are thankful to Walter for all of the ways he has impacted both the Association and thousands of students in America and Canada,” said James F. Dicke II, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “While this is a tremendous loss for Walter’s family, friends, colleagues and the countless people he helped through his philanthropy, we will honor him by continuing the mission he so greatly influenced.”

Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its Members, who will have collectively provided more than $235 million to 35,000 students by 2022.  

For more information about Horatio Alger Association, please visit and follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:  

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2020, the Association awarded more than $21 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 2,500 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $235 million in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit