Josephine Sebach

Scholarship Fund


One of The Muskingum County Community Foundation’s oldest scholarship funds is the Josephine Sebach Educational Fund. After the state of Ohio authorized the fund to MCCF in 1991, the Josephine Sebach Educational Fund has awarded more than $1 million over the last 33 years. Despite the success of the students who have benefited from this scholarship for generations, little is known or remembered about the person behind the scholarship fund. We are pleased to now share the story of Josephine Sebach.

Edna Josephine Sebach was born in Dexter City in Noble County, Ohio in 1905. She graduated from Zanesville High School in 1923 and went on to graduate with a degree in Home Economics from The Ohio State University in 1928. Josephine later graduated from Simmons College’s Prince School of Retailing.

Josephine was a prominent community member of the City of Zanesville for most of her life. She was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in downtown Zanesville, a charter member of the American Association of University Women’s Zanesville chapter, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and served as the personnel chairperson for the YWCA board. She was also a charter member and a past president of the Junior Assembly for the Bethesda Hospital. These are just a few of the many ways she was involved and gave back to her community.

What Josephine Sebach was best known for was her legacy at Zanesville City Schools. As a teacher at her Alma Mater for 41 years, she organized the first Distributive Education program in the state of Ohio. Distributive Education is a co-op program where students spend their mornings in traditional classrooms, then leave school halfway through the day to gain work experience at local establishments in the retail, business, finance, and marketing industries. A few of the companies that collaborated with the Zanesville DE program “back in the day” includes S.S. Kresges, Sears, Big Bear, J.C. Penney, and Citizens National Bank among others.

Ms. Sebach began the Zanesville Distributive Education program in 1940, but the state program did not start for another three years. She was also responsible for helping form the national Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) in 1946, which still exists in high schools and colleges across the country. When Zanesville’s DE program was still active under Ms. Sebach’s guidance, they competed at district, state, and national levels, and often placed top in several categories. Several of Ms. Sebach’s students went on to have successful careers in retailing and other fields. Sometimes she personally provided financial assistance to her students. She retired from education and as the Distributive Education coordinator for Zanesville High School in 1970.

Josephine Sebach died in 1990 at the age of 84. Having outlived all of her immediate family, she left a trust of $600,000 to be used for educational purposes. In 1991, it was announced the Josephine Sebach Educational Fund would be entrusted to The Muskingum County Community Foundation to administer as a scholarship for Muskingum County students. The first winners were awarded in the spring of 1992. The scholarship committee continues to carry on the spirit of Josephine Sebach by selecting students she herself would have offered personal financial assistance for them to pursue their dreams.

A ”Sebach Scholar” is somewhat different from most scholarship winners. A candidate for the Josephine Sebach Scholarship is preferred to fit the profile described. Applicants must be a resident of Muskingum County, a graduating senior of a Muskingum County high school, have a cumulative 2.0 - 3.5 GPA, and plan to attend a program leading to a 2- or 4-year degree or certificate from an accredited institution.

Applicants also must have clear knowledge of specific occupational goals, exhibit motivation, and financial need for the scholarship. This scholarship is renewable for up to four years. Over $95,000 was awarded in 2022.

In the Zanesville High School 1923 yearbook Comus, her classmates (humorously) prophesized she would be a “wealthy heiress.” With the hundreds, possibly thousands of students she helped as a teacher and through her planned giving, Josephine Sebach has indeed shared her wealth for the betterment of Muskingum County.
Picture 1: Josephine Sebach headshot, year unknown
Picture 2: Josephine Sebach senior photo from the 1923 Zanesville High School Yearbook