Harold and Henrietta Saltz Anderson may have made their fortune farming in the shadow of the Grand Coulee Dam in central Washington state, but they never forgot their roots in Western North Carolina.
When the couple died – Henrietta in 1995, and Harold in 2016 – with no children of their own, they left behind “seed money,” so to speak, to Western Carolina University in the form of the Harold E. and Henrietta (Saltz) Anderson Endowed Scholarship. At just more than $800,000, the gift will provide scholarship support to worthy students studying to become educators.
While neither graduated from WCU, Henrietta – or Henie, as she was known – attended WCU for two years in the mid-1950s before leaving to marry Harold Anderson on Dec. 20, 1958. The couple, who had grown up in Clay County, eventually settled in Quincy, Washington, where they acquired farmland reclaimed from the building of the dam. Henie Anderson completed her education degree at nearby Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, and taught school for 23 years. But her brother, James Russell Saltz Sr.; his wife, Martha “Scottie” Rogers Saltz; and their five children (the Andersons’ nieces and nephew) all graduated from WCU. They are the only nieces and nephew on Henie Anderson’s side of the family and all but one became teachers.
“Before my Aunt Henie died, she had told Harold she wanted to give the money to the university she had gone to, and Harold honored her wishes,” said James “Jim” Russell Saltz Jr., Henie Anderson’s nephew. “She wanted to honor Western with an education scholarship because she was a teacher and all of her family, which was my dad and my mom and my sisters and me, went to Western. She wanted to honor the university and our relationship.”
The Saltz family certainly left its mark on WNC. Henie’s brother, James Russell Saltz Sr., now 83, graduated in 1953 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education. James Saltz, who goes by Russell, entered WCU on a football scholarship, playing two years for former coach Tom Young. After graduating, he taught high school and middle school and coached three sports for 41 years in Hayesville, while farming and raising cattle on the side.
His wife, Martha “Scottie” Rogers Saltz, now 83, graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education while raising the family’s five children. She taught school in Hayesville for nearly 30 years, following in the footsteps of her mother, who also graduated from WCU and became a teacher.
Russell and Scottie’s son, Jim Saltz, is vice principal of Hayesville High School and a former president of WCU’s Student Government Association. He graduated from WCU in 1990 with bachelor’s degrees in education and business administration.
Their daughter, Cindi Saltz Simmons, graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in education and in 1983 with a master’s degree in education. She coached high school girls basketball for 30 years and volleyball for 25 years in Jackson County, winning three state titles in volleyball and one in basketball. She was a standout basketball player for WCU and Hayesville High School and is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, WNC Sports Hall of Fame and WCU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Their other daughters and WCU graduates are Amy Saltz Brodhage, who graduated in 1991 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and works in hospital finance; Teresa “Terri” Saltz, who graduated with a master of arts degree in 1982 and served as a high school band director in Georgia; and Melissa Saltz Cheek, who graduated in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and works as an exceptional children teacher in Clay County.
Henie and Harold Anderson both grew up on farms in Clay County, but after they married they traveled with Henie’s father, Plato Saltz, out west to work on various high-profile construction projects in California and eventually in Washington state. Plato Saltz was an ironworker who followed the work, pulling a trailer from state to state. “He worked on the dams on the Columbia River. He was classified as an iron worker welder,” said Russell Saltz.
After Harold and Henrietta Anderson and Plato Saltz reached Washington state, the young couple decided to stay and farm, and her father remained to help them get started. Because Harold Anderson had served in the Korean conflict, he had veteran’s preference in acquiring land, which was irrigated by canals carrying water from Grand Cooley Dam, Russell Saltz said. Henrietta’s teaching job and health insurance kept the couple afloat while Harold developed their 320-acre farm, growing potatoes and alfalfa.
Jim Saltz said he and his sisters were frequent visitors to their Aunt Henrietta and Uncle Harold’s farm, where the Andersons would take the children on sightseeing trips. “When we were in high school and college, we’d spend several weeks during the summer out there,” he said.
The Andersons had no children of their own, so when they decided to donate money to WCU, the family was honored. “They asked us how we felt about a scholarship, and we said that would be great for Clay County and the region,” Scottie Saltz said.
One of the first beneficiaries of the Harold E. and Henrietta (Saltz) Anderson Endowed Scholarship – or Anderson Scholars – is Sydney Ashley, an 18-year-old freshman from Hayesville, who was honored to receive a scholarship from a family she has known since childhood. “It makes me feel really inspired and empowered,” said Ashley, who is majoring in inclusive education, which means she’ll be certified to teach elementary grades K-6 and special education grades K-12. “I’m walking in to this like I get to teach kids who get to make their own decisions, and it’s because of teachers who pushed me hard and told me I would be a great teacher.”
Ashley, who plays flute in WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching band, said the $20,000 scholarship, spread out over four years, made the difference in whether she would have to work while going to college.
Salem Parris is a senior education major who received a $1,000 scholarship from the Harold and Henrietta Saltz Anderson Endowed Scholarship for her last year at WCU. Parris, who is from Franklinville, has chosen to teach middle grades for a very personal reason, she said. “The more I got in to the program, I switched around. But I knew I wanted to teach and I realized I wanted to be the teacher that I needed when I was in middle school,” said Parris, who currently has a 3.8 GPA and has made both the Dean’s List and the Chancellor’s List while at WCU. “I think that’s the age that you can really reach them. You can show them that school is important and someone does care about them.”
Parris, who is doing her student teaching at Waynesville Middle School during the fall semester and is the daughter of a single parent, said the scholarship was a big help in paying for her off-campus apartment and having gas money to drive to Waynesville. She also is the chaplain for her Delta Zeta sorority and serves on the sorority’s executive board for academics.
Saltz family members said they are thrilled they get to witness the results of Harold and Henrietta Anderson’s hard work and generosity so close to home, at a university they consider unparalleled.
“Western means so much to our family. WCU is a premier institution in our region. It’s in our neighborhood,” said Jim Saltz. “Several of the programs are not only nationally but world-renowned and we’re so proud the College of Education and Applied Professions is one of those stellar programs. It provides an opportunity for Western North Carolinians to be able to not only succeed but to thrive in a global society.”
The Saltz Anderson gift will provide scholarship support to students from who are majoring in an undergraduate teacher education field, with preference to students from Clay County. The gift is part of WCU’s “Lead the Way” comprehensive fundraising campaign inspired by the leadership of Chancellor David O. Belcher, who died June 17 after battling brain cancer since April 2016. Belcher announced at his 2012 installation address that increasing the number of endowed scholarships would be the No. 1 philanthropic priority of his administration. More than 200 new endowed scholarship funds have been established at WCU since then.
To give to the Lead the Way Campaign, please visit here or call 828-227-7124.
Story by: Melanie Threlkeld McConnell