Joplin, MO (SNS) – The Spirit of Philanthropy awards were announced during the Missouri Southern Foundation’s annual Lantern Society Dinner, held Sept. 26 at the Hallbrook Stables Guest House and Grounds.

More than 140 university donors and guests gathered for the event, which recognized them for their support of Missouri Southern State University.

The Spirit of Philanthropy individual award was given to John O. (Pat) and Carolyn Phelps, of Carthage, while the business award went to Roper Automotive Group of Joplin.

The Phelps family have a long history of support for the university. Carolyn’s father, George Beimdiek, was also a major benefactor – providing funds for the student recreation center that opened in 2009.

Pat and Carolyn have donated funds for scholarships, supported the athletics program, the International Piano Competition and more. They helped fund the naming of the Julio S. Leόn Health Sciences Center. For their generosity, the Interdisciplinary Simulation Lab in that building was named in their honor. Phelps Theatre, located on the first floor of Billingsly Student Center, is also named for them.

In addition to their financial support, Pat and Carolyn each served on the Board of Regents (now the Board of Governors), while Carolyn also served on the Missouri Southern Foundation board.

Roper Automotive Group was honored for their longtime generosity to the university.

Starting with Gil Roper, a former Board of Regents member, and his wife, Wilma, the family has supported Missouri Southern since its early years. Roper Automotive, under the leadership of their son, Hal Roper, has provided support for Missouri Southern’s Athletics Department for many years – providing cars to be used by members of the coaching staff as they recruit and host potential student-athletes and their families.

They also donated the scoreboard for Warren Turner Field as well as promotional materials and prizes for game sponsorships.

“The support given to Missouri Southern through the efforts of the Phelps and Roper families embodies what the Spirit of Philanthropy awards are all about,” said Dr. Brad Hodson, the university’s executive vice president. “We want to commend them for their giving spirit, which has helped to enhance our students’ academic and athletic experience and will continue to do so for many years to come.”