What is LEAVE A LEGACY
A Legacy of Achievement:
Scholarship Fund Encourages
By David P. Atkins
The extraordinary life of Judge Leah B. McCartney
continues to touch and inspire new generations
through the Judge Leah B. McCartney Scholarship
Fund. Created as a memorial by her husband, the late
Reverend Victor A. McCartney, the scholarship fund
currently provides two $1,500 awards annually to
aspiring undergraduate students. The Fund is
administered by the
Missouri United Methodist Foundation.
The scholarship is a particularly fitting tribute to
one for whom education was of central importance and
who achieved such educational distinction. Born Leah
Brock in 1911 in Ellisville, Mississippi, she
attended Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri.
Leah subsequently enrolled in Lincoln University in
Jefferson City, Missouri, where she received her
Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1938.
After many years as a teacher, she enrolled in The
George Washington University in Washington, D.C.,
graduating with an LLB degree in 1954.
In 1968, Mrs. McCartney became the first
African-American woman to earn a law degree from The
George Washington University School of Law. While
working full-time, she graduated in
three years with the highest grade point average in
her third-year class.
Mrs. McCartney became the first female municipal
judge of record in Missouri, a distinction for which
the Missouri Senate commended her. While serving as
municipal judge in Kinloch, Mrs. McCartney commuted
between St. Louis and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she
taught law at the University of Tulsa. Of all her
achievements, however, Mrs. McCartney was most proud
of an award she received from the residents of
Kinloch thanking her for the steps she took to
improve their community while municipal judge.
Another milestone occurred in 1977 when Judge
McCartney became the first African-American to serve
on the Missouri Public Service Commission. At the
time of her death in 1984, Judge McCartney was
serving on the board of directors for the Missouri
United Methodist Foundation.
Desiring to remember his wife Leah in perpetuity,
Reverend McCartney established the scholarship fund
in her name at the Missouri United Methodist
Foundation on Memorial Day, 1989. The Foundation,
with offices in Chesterfield, solicits applications
from students annually.
Judge McCartney lived a life of accomplishment,
service and faith. She epitomized those American
ideals of life-long learning and perseverance that
have built a great nation, and her pioneering spirit
crossed barriers of gender and race at a pivotal
time in our history. We join in giving thanks for
her life and her legacy to the future.
LEAVE A LEGACY® wishes to thank the
Missouri United Methodist Foundation for sharing this story.