"When Bernie began teaching at Bloomsburg, that's when he found his home. He absolutely loved it there." That's what Kathleen Dill '72 said as she recalled the couple's early educational and professional journey.

As a young girl growing up in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Kathleen wasn't sure what she wanted to do when she grew up but knew she wanted to pursue her education beyond high school. As her junior year approached, she needed to decide.

"It was crunch time, and I had to make up my mind," Kathleen says. "There weren't many choices for girls back then. It was either become a teacher, a nurse or work in a department store."

Knowing she wanted to make an impact, Kathleen enrolled in nursing school at Mercy Hospital and began taking courses at Misericordia University in Luzerne County, PA. Little did she know that would be just the beginning of her journey through higher education.

As fate would have it, Kathleen's life took a turn when a coworker invited her to a wedding. Kathleen agreed to accompany her friend, and that decision changed her life forever because that's where she met Bernard "Bernie" Dill.
Within a year of meeting, the two were married. During the time leading up to their wedding, Bernie worked for DuPont in Delaware, traveling home on weekends. However, when DuPont began to lay off many people, Bernie began a search for a new career path and decided to enroll in the MBA program at Penn State in 1959.

Bernie's career took the couple to Chicago, where he worked for Mutual of New York. However, he soon realized that selling insurance wasn't his true calling. Driven by a passion for teaching, Bernie secured a position as an assistant professor at Richmond Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He taught economics and finance from 1961 to 1965 while also pursuing his doctorate at George Washington University.

After spending six years in Richmond, Bernie and Kathleen decided to return to Pennsylvania. Bernie was offered a job at Wilkes University, where he taught for a year. However, he wasn't entirely satisfied with the program there. Then, an opportunity arose at Bloomsburg University, and Bernie found his true academic home. He joined Bloomsburg as a professor and began building the finance program from scratch, contributing to Bloomsburg's evolution from a teaching school to a university.

Bloomsburg was a special place for both Bernie and Kathleen. Kathleen's mother, Catherine Branigan Matarella, had attended Bloomsburg in the 1920s to become a teacher. Bernie's dedication to his students was unwavering. Kathleen recalls many late dinners after long days when Bernie would stay late on campus, assisting students with questions and problems, ensuring he was always there for them.

Inspired by Bernie's love for education and the students, Kathleen also enrolled in classes at Bloomsburg as a non-traditional, part-time student. In 1972, the same year Bernie completed his doctorate, Kathleen proudly graduated from Bloomsburg with her bachelor's degree. To celebrate, they packed up the family car and took their two young children on a memorable trip to a brand new amusement park that had just recently opened in Florida - Disney World!

Bernie continued teaching at Bloomsburg for many years, becoming a beloved figure on campus. However, when the university offered him early retirement, he seized the opportunity to explore the world with Kathleen. They traveled extensively, including one incredible trip to China with the Global Awareness Society organized by Bloomsburg's Dr. Jim Pomfret and Dr. Chang Roh.

"Bernie's family didn't have money, and he didn't think he would ever be able to attend college," Kathleen adds. "But he was determined to make it work, and he did. He bagged a lot of groceries, delivered a lot of newspapers, and washed a lot of dishes to pay his tuition at Penn State Hazleton campus and then at the main campus in State College."
Remembering his own struggles, Bernie always dreamt of, one day, helping others achieve their educational aspirations without the same hardships. After Bernie sadly passed in 2020, Kathleen and her children, Pat and Paul, established the Dr. Bernard C. Dill Memorial Scholarship at Bloomsburg University to honor his memory. The scholarship supports first-generation students, just as Bernie himself had been.

As the first reports of scholarship recipients arrived, Kathleen and her children were so excited to see how the students were benefiting and thinking about what that would have meant to Bernie. Kathleen and her daughter Pat were pleased to be able to attend the annual Scholarship luncheon in 2022 to hear from recipients first-hand how these scholarships make a difference in their ability to complete their studies.

"Bernie would be so proud," says Kathleen. "All he ever wanted was to make a difference in the lives of the students he taught and to help make it easier for them to achieve their educational goals. Now, with this scholarship, he'll be doing that forever."

The creation of the scholarship also brought together family members and friends who joined Kathleen and her children in supporting Bernie's legacy. It was a testament to the power of education and the indelible mark Bernie had left on their lives.

In the end, Kathleen's journey from Hazleton to Bloomsburg, alongside Bernie's unwavering commitment to teaching, led to the family creating a scholarship that would open doors for generations of students. Through their collective efforts, the Dill family has ensured that Bernie's dream of providing educational opportunities to others will continue to flourish, forever solidifying his legacy at Bloomsburg.