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Honoring sacrifice: APSU launches first-ever Gold Star Family scholarship endowment

By: Payton Baggett February 28, 2024


Johnny and Janet Rudolph, front, with retired Maj. Gen. Walt Lord and Shawnae Towner.

Johnny and Janet Rudolph (’75) recently made a significant contribution to the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Foundation, establishing the Retired Maj. Norman and Edna Landis Gold Star Family Endowment in honor of Janet’s parents. This initiative marks the University’s first scholarship designed to support Gold Star families.

Janet, a military child and alumna of Austin Peay’s School of Nursing, emphasized the challenges military families face, drawing from the experiences that her mother, Edna Landis, had while raising three girls while her father, Retired Maj. Norman Landis, served on various assignments.

“This scholarship is a tribute to both my mother and father,” she said. “When a family serves, it’s just as hard on the spouse as it is on the soldier.”


Maj. Norman Landis

Janet’s father, a veteran of the Korean War and the Vietnam War, began his military career in 1947 when he was 17 years old. He joined at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. From there, he went to Camp Stoneman, California, then to Japan, where he joined the 11th Airborne Division. He returned to the United States in 1949 at Camp Campbell, which is now Fort Campbell, and became a message center chief in the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion. Norman met Edna shortly after that, and they married on Dec. 2, 1949. They have three daughters including Janet and her sisters, Karen Brown and Norma Parker. Norman was promoted to sergeant first class and reassigned to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1952 as chief of regimental communications. From there, his service took him and his family to many places including Germany, Korea, Southeast Asia, Alabama, Texas, Thailand, Japan, Philippines and Vietnam. His last assignment was with the 501st Signal Battalion at Fort Campbell, where he served in various positions until his retirement in 1967. In the following years, he and his family remained in the area. Norman passed away in 2021 at the age of 91. In 2023, Edna also passed away at the age of 91.

The endowment is designated to provide essential support to Gold Star family spouses or children. A Gold Star family is one that has experienced a loss of a loved one – an immediate family member – who died as the result of active-duty military service. Those who die in service to their country leave behind parents, siblings, spouses, children and extended families. These are recognized as Gold Star families. When eligible Gold Star family candidates are unavailable, the scholarship will be granted to military dependents meeting the criteria.

“Our University expresses deep gratitude to Johnny and Janet Rudolph for their philanthropic spirit and dedication to positively impacting Gold Star families,” Austin Peay President Mike Licari said. “The Retired Maj. Norman and Edna Landis Gold Star Family Endowment stands as a lasting tribute to the legacy of military service members and the families who bear the weight of their sacrifice.”

Scholarship Criteria

Applicants must meet the following criteria to qualify for the Retired Maj. Norman and Edna Landis Gold Star Family Endowment:

“We take pride in introducing the Retired Maj. Norman and Edna Landis Gold Star Family Endowment, the first of its kind at our university. This scholarship stresses our commitment to addressing the unique needs of Gold Star families within the military community," said retired Maj. Gen. Walt Lord, vice president for military and veterans affairs at Austin Peay.

To support Austin Peay fundraising initiatives, contact the Office of Philanthropy at 931-221-7127.

About the Austin Peay Foundation

Endowments are permanently restricted funds managed by the Austin Peay State University Foundation’s Investment Committee. The amount of the scholarship award varies and will be determined based on the value of the endowment and the Foundation’s spending plan.


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