JL Stacks Memorial Scholarships Established

Ron Cioffi | January 14, 2021

The Southern Tennis Foundation (STF), the charitable arm of USTA Southern, announces the establishment of the JL Stacks Memorial Scholarships. A $60,000 endowment will fund two $1,000 college scholarships for incoming freshmen, which are renewable for three additional years. These scholarships were established by JL's wife, Jean Stacks Harrold, to commemorate her late husband, who passed away in 2013.


JL (Jessie Lester) Stacks was born in Mooresville, N.C. in 1956. His passion for tennis began when he was 12 years old and started playing on the Davidson College campus tennis courts. He went on to play in junior tournaments around the state, often getting rides with friends. As his skills as a junior player improved steadily, he became a star player for North Mecklenburg (N.C.) High School.

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Former STF Chairman Paula Hale describes how playing tennis with Harrold laid the groundwork for the scholarships. “After we played tennis one day, Jean asked me about opportunities to honor her late husband JL Stacks, who was a beloved pro. We discussed the educational scholarships the STF was working to endow and she immediately said, ‘That is what I want to do.’ She said JL was passionate about tennis and education and this would be the perfect way to honor his legacy. The STF is extremely grateful for this endowment and for Jean’s generosity.”

The foundation awards 10 annual scholarships of $1,000 to incoming college freshmen. The STF’s scholarship committee determines which two recipients will be awarded the JL Stacks Memorial Scholarships. 


CW Stacks, JL’s brother, said, “We were fortunate to have many role models while we were growing up. One of them was, Dr. James Causey, who introduced JL and me to tennis. I am certain that my brother would say that the life lessons we learned through tennis helped us achieve our parents’ goal and our goal of becoming accomplished, responsible, and caring individuals. My sister, Vickie, and I are thrilled that our sister-in-law Jean Stacks Harrold has chosen to honor our beloved brother by providing funds to assist deserving students attend college where they, too, can begin achieving their life goals.”


“JL loved growing up in Davidson around the college tennis program. Those college players, along with CW, were heroes he could emulate. His success in the investment world was achieved only after significant struggle and I attribute overcoming those struggles, at least partly, to lessons learned on the tennis court,” said Dean Channel, a dear friend and business partner of JL’s from BB&T Scott & Stringfellow. “JL would be very proud of the endowment,” he added.


Though JL’s parents were not able to attend college, they highly valued education, worked hard, and made many sacrifices so that their children could do just that. This made it possible for JL to play No. 1 on the Florida Southern College men's tennis team. JL worked as hard off the tennis courts as he did on them. He was elected to the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and earned a B.S. in Business Administration.


After college, JL continued to excel as a player and as coach. He reached the finals of the N.C. Adult Closed Tennis Championship in 1985. JL enjoyed his work as Head Tennis Pro at country clubs in Birmingham, Ala.; New Orleans; Gainesville, Fla.; and Raleigh, N.C. Students old and young greatly improved their tennis abilities and enjoyed their time on the courts with JL.

"We have so many fond memories of our time learning tennis with JL. Our almost daily after-school lessons were something that we really looked forward to. When JL pushed us hard on the tennis courts, we knew that it came from a place of caring and wanting us to achieve our full potential. He encouraged us to do well and was there to console us when we failed. Our time with JL taught us more than just how to become better tennis players, but how to become more well-rounded people. We were truly blessed to find a coach and friend like JL. We're so happy that his legacy lives on in this endowment," said Murali and Vidyha Bashyam, two of JL’s former tennis students.


JL's connections in tennis led him to a career in the financial sector. He joined Robinson-Humphrey as an investment advisor in 1988. In 1994, JL was asked to help form a Raleigh, N.C., office for Scott & Stringfellow. After becoming an Accredited Asset Management Specialist, JL was named Managing Director and served on the Advisory Board of BB&T Scott & Stringfellow. JL’s assistant Blake Manley noted that his consideration for others and his work ethic make these scholarships a perfect tribute: "JL believed and practiced … if you always do the right thing for your client, everyone wins.”


JL wrote this in an op-ed article in April of 2009 about A.J. Carr, a reporter for The News and Observer, whom he greatly admired, "Let's face it, a strong character, gentlemanly behavior and unwavering integrity are obtainable to us all, yet in today's world we are all too frequently reminded of their absence."


According to JL's business partner, Channel, "JL could have written that letter about himself. He too, was a gentleman of character."


Jean Stacks Harrold described her desire to honor JL in these terms. "JL loved his work. He spent his days as a Money Manager doing what he enjoyed most — researching investment opportunities and staying informed about the choices he made. As an investor, the bulk of his net worth was invested on the same terms and in the same instruments as his clients. JL focused on risk before return, aiming to purchase at a rational price, shares in easily understandable businesses whose earnings were virtually certain to be materially higher in five, 10, or 20 years. As a result of JL's wise and prudent investment strategies, I am thankful that I am able to establish this endowment in JL's memory and continue his legacy. I am certain he would be honored, as it was his desire to give back. Our daughter, Claudia Stacks Twilley, and sons, Parker and David Stacks, share my enthusiasm. They are delighted that we have found such a meaningful way to recognize their father and his many accomplishments.” 


The initial JL Stacks scholarships will be presented in 2021 and scholarships are renewable for the next three years if the student maintains a 3.0 or better GPA, remains a full-time student and does not otherwise receive a full college scholarship. Among the criteria for selection of high school students are: current resident of a USTA Southern state, an active player who has been ranked in the top 500 or played high school, JTT or NJTL tennis for two years.

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