Gayle Grinstead Memorial Scholarship Fund established at Outer Banks Community Foundation

Published 1:37 pm Sunday, March 5, 2023

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The Outer Banks Community Foundation has announced the creation of the Gayle Grinstead Memorial Scholarship, affording Dare and Currituck graduating high school seniors an additional, renewable scholarship opportunity beginning in the spring of 2023.

A minimum of $2,500 will be awarded each year through the new scholarship fund, renewable for up to four years as long as the student maintains good grades and full-time enrollment. Preference for this scholarship award will be given to students who major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics fields.

Jim and Karen Willis of Corolla established the fund to honor Karen’s mother Gayle Grinstead, a long-time North Carolina resident. Gayle was born in Raleigh in 1925. As a young wife and mother, she followed her husband Buddy around the world, with nine children in tow, while he pursued his Navy career. He was stationed in Norfolk in the late 60s; it was at that time that Gayle pinched, saved and sneaked enough milk and bread money to buy a lot in Carova. Soon Buddy and the whole family were hooked on the Outer Banks. They bought a house in Corolla in the late 80s and it was the site of many raucous, fun-filled, family vacations. In her later years, Gayle moved to Corolla permanently, where she passed away in 2018 at the age of 93.

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“Gayle was a strong believer in giving back to her community, and supporting people who needed a helping hand,” said her daughter Karen. “This scholarship is intended to honor her life, her compassion, and her commitment to community.”

“We’re thrilled to support Jim and Karen in their initiative to honor Gayle and establish a generous, renewable scholarship program,” said Community Foundation president and CEO Chris Sawin. “This new scholarship will support deserving Dare and Currituck students in their pursuit of higher education.”

The Community Foundation administers 66 scholarship funds and administers 43 scholarship programs. Scholarship applications are being accepted through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 6, 2023. Approximately $200,000 will be awarded this spring to graduating high school seniors and renewing college students. For more information or to apply, visit or call 252-261-8839.