An Advocate for Stewardship // The Ike Leighty Scholarship
Ike Leighty believes in teaching individuals the importance of helping others. "I believe the Lord entrusted me with the stewardship of a portion of His great bounty to give me a challenge and opportunity to use it to develop and practice my concern for others—to use me to help put His arms around those in need. That has become my intent.”
The youngest of five children, Ike grew up in rural western Illinois where his parents were sharecroppers. When Ike was five, his mother passed away from tuberculosis. Loving neighbors, particularly “Mother Moon” who had ten children of her own, and relatives reached out to help raise the children and to find their way. Ike has spent his lifetime passing on the kindness and generosity shown to him during his youth.
From these very modest beginnings, Ike became a sales and marketing consultant and a very successful entrepreneur. He partnered with the late Joe Nelson to start Engineered Products in 1977, a business which produces and markets the Filter Minder monitor. This gauge, patented by Joe, measures the life left in a vehicle’s air filter. At the end of the first year, they had a negative net worth of $64, however, the business was generating enough cash flow from increasing sales to finance the steady growth of the business without borrowing.
Unfortunately, Joe died in 1984. Two years later, his widow, Fran, sold her interest in the business and moved to California to be with her family. Ike continued to grow Engineered Products and a new facility was built. The business was eventually sold to the management team and employees for several million dollars. The company has continued to develop new products and markets. Engineered Products is a classic example of a capitalistic, wealth creating, American entrepreneurial success that gives back to the community.
Ike began to realize that he was accumulating more money than he needed or could reasonably spend. Like others that helped his family during his upbringing, Ike in turn wanted to teach others about stewardship. The Leighty Foundation was created in 1985. The Board of Directors is comprised of Ike’s children and their spouses with his grandchildren serving as advisors to the Foundation. In 2004, Ike and Emile Leighty were married. Emile has become an associate director to the Foundation.
Ike and Fran Nelson established the Joe Nelson Engineered Products Co Scholarship Fund at Hawkeye Community College. Annually, five scholarships are awarded to recognize, encourage, and develop budding entrepreneurs. These scholarships are awarded based on achievement, career plans, and goals—because as Ike says, “The community and economy needs more people like Joe Nelson who can innovate and make things happen.”
Ike and Emile are great supporters of Hawkeye. Two Woody Stingley Scholarships are awarded in honor of Ike’s lifelong friend and Emile’s late husband. Woody believed that helping young people was an investment in the future. These scholarships are supported by Ike and Emile to keep doing things for others in Woody’s name.
Ike passed away August 20, 2015. The Ike Leighty Scholarship continues to benefit many Hawkeye Community College students.