Mary Wilson Neel was born in 1918 in San Mateo, Calif. and grew up in Washington, D.C.  Through her connections with the Graham family, who are relatives of Mary Breckinridge, Mrs. Neel learned of the Frontier Nursing Service Courier program.

Mrs. Neel’s love of horses and sense for adventure brought her to southeastern Kentucky in the 1930’s to work as a volunteer Courier.  After her service as a Courier, Mrs. Neel married, raised five children and continued her lifelong value of volunteering with worthy non-profit organizations.  She worked as a “candy striper” for her local hospital for many years and also served on the National Board for the Metropolitan Opera.

Mrs. Neel also passed on her philanthropic tendencies to her children. Her daughter, Wendy Ellsworth, followed in her footsteps and served as a Courier for FNS.  Mrs. Neel and her children continue to support Frontier and other non-profit organizations through the Neel Foundation, which was established by their father in 1961 and has contributed to Frontier every year since.

Most recently, the Neel Foundation pledged $5,000 towards the Mary Wilson Neel Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship, which will ultimately total $10,000, will remain permanently invested in the FNU Endowment Fund.  Annual growth of the fund will provide scholarships to current FNU students each year.