The Lakeland Foundation will receive nearly $1 million from the trust of a longtime college donor, Joanne Cole Bhatta, whose uncle was a surveyor of the first campus buildings.
An educator throughout her life, Bhatta cared about Lakeland's mission, its students and Lake County. She passed away May 15, 2019, in Naples, FL. Most of her estate was left to charities, and Lakeland was one of the nonprofit organizations she prioritized.
Her uncle, Homer Cole of Willowick, was a WWII veteran and civil engineer who worked on the Lakeland campus when it was built in the 1970s. He later moved to Mentor and is buried at Mentor Cemetery.
Born in Cleveland in 1930, Bhatta graduated from Willoughby Union High School in 1948 and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Mount Union.
In 1954, Mrs. Bhatta joined Special Services and was stationed at U.S. Army bases in La Rochelle and Angouleme, France. From 1961 to 1975, Mrs. Bhatta was employed by the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, teaching elementary education at military bases in Bad Nauheim and Stuttgart, Germany; Verdun and Saumur, France; Chofu and Yokosuka, Japan; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. From Cuba, Mrs. Bhatta moved to Naples, FL where she resided since 1975.
The Lakeland Foundation received a partial distribution of $400,000 from The Joanne Cole Bhatta Revocable Trust. This distribution is in addition to a $92,500 distribution the Foundation received in early 2019. It is expected that a final distribution of approximately $500,000 will be made later this year. All these distributions are designated by Joanne's trust to fund endowed scholarships for Lake County students attending Lakeland. The new endowment being established by Joanne's trust is going to be named for her father, John B. Cole, who was a prominent business man in Willoughby.
"Joanne's generous donation will help more Lake County students earn a college degree to improve their lives," said Gregory Sanders, vice president for institutional advancement at Lakeland and executive director of The Lakeland Foundation. "This endowed scholarship adds to the Cole family legacy at Lakeland and in Lake County."
The Homer A. Cole Scholarship and Gertrude Cole Slotterbeck Memorial Endowed Scholarship were previously established with The Lakeland Foundation.