Inaugural Austin Speece Scholarship for Public Service Awarded
The first Austin Speece Scholarship for Public Service was recently awarded to Larry Cress, who will be attending the University of Indianapolis.
Cress, a student from Central Nine (C9) Career Center, was grateful to receive the award, and is looking forward to a career in public service.
Austin Speece was a 2010 Center Grove High School graduate who participated in the Greenwood Fire Department’s cadet program before working as a firefighter with the department. He was also a member of the department’s Honor Guard for several years. Speece died in May of 2017.
The selection committee for the scholarship is made up of members of Speece’s family and the Greenwood Fire Department.
Speece’s father Bob said his family started a scholarship program in his son’s memory, for young people entering public service jobs – particularly fire, police and emergency medical technician departments.
“My brother Chuck Speece and his wife Connie came up with this idea to help keep Austin’s memory alive, and help future young people who wish to go into public service,” Bob says. “It started out for the cadets at the Greenwood Fire Department, but they were all so young that we opened it up.”
Speece loved his career with the Greenwood Fire Department.
“Austin’s career actually started at C9,” Bob says. “He fell in love with [the fire department] at an early age. When he became a fireman, he was stationed at the 91 Headquarters on Main Street in Greenwood. He also became a leader in the cadet program, which he loved. He enjoyed working with young people.”
Speece also enjoyed pursuing various interests outside of firefighting.
“He became a member of the Honor Guard in 2012, participating in an Indiana Pacers game as his first event,” Bob says, adding that Speece was also a member of the Indiana Donor Network. “Austin was also fortunate enough to go to Washington, D.C., to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and participate in events there.”
Speece was also a big sports fan, and followed the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“As a young man, Austin enjoyed baseball,” Bob says. “He would go with me to watch me and my teammates play softball, and after the games Austin and his brothers would run the bases and slide into home base. All the players on the team loved them and got to know them. One day a gentleman in the neighborhood asked if Austin wanted to play soccer, and from then on that was his game until he hurt his knee, which ended his soccer career.”
Bob says he and his family are enthusiastic about the Central Nine Career Center.
“When we had Austin’s funeral, instead of having people send flowers, we asked people to make a donation to the cadet program,” he says. “One of his fellow firefighters, Dalton Watson, sold bracelets in memory of Austin. That money was also donated to the C9 program. I believe approximately $4,000 was raised through these two events. Austin loved and respected his career. Most of all, he loved his family and friends.”
For more information on the Austin Speece Scholarship program, contact Bob Speece at firstname.lastname@example.org.