Scholarship established to honor Curt and Marilyn Thompson BurklowCreated to recognize the Burklows’ tradition of music education

Curt and Marilyn Thompson Burklow had a tradition of musical accomplishment in their family. The Burklows are being honored for that tradition by family members and friends through the establishment of the Curtis and Marilyn Thompson Burklow Piano Scholarship for students in the Murray State University department of music.

Curt and his wife, the late Marilyn Thompson Burklow, graduated from Harrisburg (Ill.) High School and attended Murray State University, majoring in music education. The couple married in September 1953. Sixty-one years after their marriage, a student will be pursuing study in music at MSU because of the scholarship named for them. Margaret Espinoza, a music education major specializing in piano and strings, will receive the first scholarship award for the upcoming school year. A scholarship application for the 2015-16 academic year will be available online this fall.

Curt Burklow is a retired band director; he taught at both the high school and middle school levels in Southern Illinois for more than 50 years. Marilyn Thompson Burklow taught general music in Southern Illinois for 30 years. They both maintained private studios in Harrisburg — Marilyn in vocal and piano, and Curt in instrumental music. Marilyn passed away in February 2012.

Their interest in music spilled over into their community life with participation in their church choir and through service on the governing board of the Southeastern Illinois College Cultural Arts Series. The couple also held memberships in professional organizations including the Illinois Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, the Illinois Grade School Music Association and American Band Masters.

Their love of music was passed on to their daughter, Kim Burklow Black, a music teacher for the Murray Independent School System. “Mom and Dad devoted their lives to the musical education of their students and their community. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to honor that devotion than to help make it possible for future music educators to begin that journey,” Kim said.

Kim’s husband is Dr. Randall (Randy) Black, a professor of music at Murray State whose areas of expertise are voice, pedagogy and opera. “This endowment is an investment in the musicians and the music teachers of tomorrow,” he said. “It will enable piano students to attend Murray State that might not otherwise be able to do so.”

Kim and Randy wanted to establish this scholarship in honor of her parents to recognize the Burklows dedication to the enrichment of the musical education and lives of their students and the community. The Blacks made a special contribution to fund an award this year, making Espinoza’s scholarship a reality. This special tribute by the Blacks, along with other family members and friends, will assist students at Murray State in obtaining an education that prepares them for a career in music.

The Curtis and Marilyn Thompson Burklow Piano Scholarship will be available to qualified applicants who are full-time students at either the undergraduate or graduate level. First preference will be given to music education majors with an emphasis in piano.

To make a gift to the Curtis and Marilyn Thompson Burklow Piano Scholarship, send a check to the MSU Office of Development, 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, KY 42071. Checks should be made payable to the MSU Foundation denoting the Curtis and Marilyn Thompson Burklow Piano Scholarship in the memo section.

Donors may also give securely online at

For more information on the fund, contact Tina Bernot, the director of development for the MSU college of humanities and fine arts at 270.809.3250 or

Photo caption:

Kim Black and her husband, Dr. Randall Black, sign the guidelines for the establishment of the Curtis and Marilyn Thompson Burklow Piano Scholarship for students in the Murray State University department of music. The Burklows are Kim’s parents.

— MSU photo provided

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