Neither Woodey nor Vonetta Searle ever attended college but their generosity has helped dozens of students make it to graduation over the years. A donation the couple gave in 2007 will be used to hire new business faculty at USU’s Uintah Basin Campus.
Vonetta donated nine-acres of land across from the Basin Clinic in Vernal. The money raised from the land sale is being used to hire faculty to teach business management, accounting, finance, marketing and related business subjects.
Before Woodey died, they talked of donating the land to USU, Vonetta said. She said they didn’t have much money for college when they graduated from high school, so they have contributed to scholarships through the years to assist students who needed help obtaining their college degree.
“He always had a soft spot in his heart for kids,” she said of her late husband.
Woodey was a successful businessman, Vonetta said. He started selling furs and hides and eventually owned and operated a store and a motel in Vernal, along with some rental properties.
“He had a mind for business,” she said. “He could think real fast and he traded. He was just a jack of all trades. Anything to make a dollar and he did well. He had a good business sense.”
When the gift was announced, Vonetta said, “Woodey and I have always wanted to help young people, and this is a way we can help for a very long time.”