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The Arlington Optimist Harrow Fund is a scholarship fund that was set up by the Harrow Family in memory of their husband and father, Leon V. Harrow, a member of the Arlington Optimist Club.


From l. to r., Madeleine LaSalle of the Arlington Career Center; Erica Burson, Harrow Fund Grant Committee Chair; Nawal Abdulkader; her father; and Christian Mox-Benitez. 


The Harrow Fund’s purpose was to provide full funding scholarships to No. VA Community College (NVCC) from a high school’s alternative learning program or “at risk” youth. The scholarship was to cover tuition and school supplies. The scholarship fund was $100,000.

About Leon Harrow:

Leon V. Harrow was a longtime Arlingtonian and a very proud and active member of Arlington Optimist Club. He passed away at age 68 of cancer at his Arlington home on July 22, 1991. Mr. Harrow was the general manager of Murphy and Ames Lumber Company in Arlington. Prior, he worked at the Navy Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA after WWII and operated a Gulf Station. Mr. Harrow was very active in the Arlington County Community. He served on the boards of directors of the Prudential Building Association and the Arlington Interstate Savings & Loan bank. He was a member of the No. Virginia Builders Association, the National Retail Lumber Dealers Association, and the Virginia Building Material Dealers Association. Mr. Harrow was born in Deltaville, VA, and moved to Arlington in 1934. He was a graduate from Washington-Lee High School, now called Washington-Liberty. Mr. Harrow served in the Army Air Forces during WWII. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of Kena Temple. He married Frances Ames and had three children – a son, Leon Jr.; and two daughters, Patterson Jefferson and Lynn Lupton. At the time of his death, he had four grandchildren.

Scholarship History:

It appears documentation regarding the details of the Harrow Fund were never drafted. For many years, the Harrow Fund was managed by Warren and Lucy Richard (Optimist members) and Wayne Vaughn (Harrow’s nephew). In 2002, the Richards moved from Arlington, and Mr. Vaughn moved to Richmond. The exact year of the scholarship fund’s founding is unknown. Since Mr. Harrow’s death in 1991, it can be estimated that the scholarship fund was formed around 1992. Arlington’s Langly High School was the “feeder” school that the Optimist Club focused on to find scholars. Through the years, it was discovered that Langly did not provide scholars who could complete the two-year NVCC program or equipped for higher education. Sandy Bushue, Optimist member, became the new Chair of the Harrow Scholarship Fund. Around 2004 (will check with Greg C.), it was discovered that the Harrow fund had no successful scholars who completed the two-year program, and the original fund principle had plunged to around $50K. In order to save the program, the Optimist Board of Directors, at the time, voted to put a hold on awarding scholarships and to invest the money in an aggressive but conservative financial instrument that would provide a higher return. The fund balance was given to Greg Clough, an Optimist member and a registered financial planner, to invest. In 2020, Greg Clough reported that the principle is now around $130K throwing off around $8K in interest per year.