October 2, 2020

The Marilyn Lewis Jenkins ’51 Endowed Scholarship will assist active duty or retired service members to earn a Centenary University degree.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, Oct. 2, 2020—A new endowed scholarship recently established at Centenary University by former CDR John S. Jenkins, Jr., JAGC, USN will assist active duty or retired service personnel and children of military families to afford a college education. Named in honor of his late mother, the Marilyn Lewis Jenkins ’51 Endowed Scholarship was seeded with a generous $25,000 contribution by Mr. Jenkins and has been supplemented with several additional gifts.

A member of the Centenary University Class of 1951 and longtime Navy wife, Mrs. Jenkins was married to the late RADM John S. Jenkins, JAGC, USN (Ret.), an attorney and the U.S. Navy’s senior legal officer. As the wife of a senior officer, Mrs. Jenkins was a member of the Navy JAG Officers Wives Club who took a lead role in ensuring that Naval wives and families felt fully supported. She passed away on June 18 and was laid to rest with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mrs. Jenkins grew up in Mount Zion, Pa., the daughter of a peach farmer who was also a mail carrier in the rural community. She met her husband, the son of a boilermaker, during high school, but the pair waited almost a decade to marry in 1958, after he joined the U.S. Navy. “My mom was the first generation in her family to attend college and held a work-study job in the college cafeteria to afford an education,” explained Mr. Jenkins. “My father went on to a 28-year career in the military, including 15 years assigned to the Pentagon. He was a two-star admiral and the Navy’s senior legal officer.”

Initially working in the insurance industry while her husband launched his military career and attended George Washington University Law School at night, Mrs. Jenkins soon became involved with the Navy JAG Officers Wives Club. As her husband advanced in rank, Mrs. Jenkins took a lead role in ensuring that Naval wives and families felt fully supported.

Mr. Jenkins followed in his father’s footsteps, forging careers in the Navy—“I was a JAG, just like my dad”—and as an attorney. When his father died in 2015, Mr. Jenkins and his mother established a scholarship and an endowed chair at George Washington University Law School to recognize his father’s distinguished service. Five years later when Mrs. Jenkins passed away, he wanted to honor his mother in a similar way, with an endowed scholarship at Centenary University.

Noting that Mrs. Jenkins kept in touch with Centenary classmates throughout her life, Mr. Jenkins said, “My mother was modest, so she may have been a little embarrassed by the scholarship. But she would also be honored to have our family continue to support military and veterans causes. Education took my parents out of their small Pennsylvania farming and industrial town to achieve so much. Now, I feel it’s important to provide the same educational opportunities to veterans and active duty service members and their families.”


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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