Last spring when the University of Missouri-St. Louis presented the first Timothy J. Caton Scholarship in Information System in memory of the 2008 Washington High School graduate, his mom, Marlin Heidmann, Washington, couldn’t have been more proud.
She imagines her son, who died at age 27 on Thanksgiving Day 2017, the result of central nervous system vasculitis thought to be an effect of the use of prescribed Humira, would feel the same way.
Caton had been a dedicated UMSL student who had received a scholarship himself. So after he passed away and the funeral home asked the family where they might like memorial donations to be given, his father, John Caton of Lake Bluff, Ill., suggested UMSL.
A family friend set up a Go Fund Me page where people could pledge donations and the total had reached $15,000 when an anonymous donor gave another $15,000, allowing the scholarship to reach the endowed level, meaning it will be awarded every year for the life on the university, said Heidmann.
The scholarship of $1,200 is awarded to an information systems major who has a GPA of at least 3.0 and demonstrates financial need.
Sydney Roberson was the first recipient.
The next award will be presented at a scholarship luncheon set for May. 1.
The scholarship value will continue to grow as more funds are donated, said Heidmann, noting that the family makes a donation every year on Tim’s birthday.
The family is deeply grateful for everyone who already contributed, Heidmann stressed, especially Tim’s UMSL classmates.
“They were very instrumental in supporting the scholarship and getting it to the endowment level,” she said.
First Mizzou, Then UMSL
After graduating from WHS, Caton went on to the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in hospitality management in 2013. He worked in that field for a couple of years before he realized he wanted to pursue something else, said Heidmann.
He enrolled at UMSL in a fast-track program for computer science and management technology and graduated in May 2017.
“He said he learned more in those 18 months at UMSL than he did in five years at Mizzou,” said Heidmann, with a smile. “He was more mature by then.”
Caton was a very involved student at UMSL, she noted. He became good friends both with his fellow students and the faculty. He accepted an internship with TDK Technologies in Chesterfield and as soon as he graduated, was hired by the company full time.
He was working there when he became sick and needed to be hospitalized.
Hospitalized for 45 Days
Caton had been diagnosed with psoriasis when he was around 18, said Heidmann. He sought treatment when he was in college, and he was prescribed Humira.
He became ill in September 2017 and was hospitalized for 45 days before he died.
While he was in the hospital, Caton and his fiance, Samantha, were married.
Heidmann said having a scholarship named for her late son is one uplifting piece of this heartbreaking experience for his family and friends. She encourages more people to consider establishing memorial scholarships.
“It’s something people can do for their loved ones so their legacy continues,” she said.