NKU recieves donation from Florida millionaire

93-year-old David Iler’s recently pledged $3 million in scholarships to Northern Kentucky University is one of the largest gifts ever received by the university.

Iler, a resident of Naples, Florida never attended NKU. In fact, he hasn’t lived in Kentucky for over three decades.

His only connection to the school is the fact that he supervised the construction of the first road leading to NKU in 1971-the road that later came to be Nunn Drive.

Iler was born in 1912 in Carntown, a small town near the Campbell County border.

His delivery was nearly botched by the doctor. Somehow managing to survive, Iler continued to struggle through his early years.

When he attended Moscow High School in Clermont County in Ohio he had to walk down the C’O railroad tracks for a mile and half before getting on a boat to cross the Ohio River.

Iler then had to walk another three fourths of a mile to reach the high school.

It was a struggle for Iler to get through school since he suffered from dyslexia.

“You have dyslexia and everyone thinks you’re dumb,” Iler said.

He never received more than a high school diploma.

After graduation he attended the University of Kentucky for three weeks.

An excellent basketball player, Iler planned on joining their team.

But when he was in Lexington his mother called him every day, begging him to come home until he finally did.

It was years before Iler finally was able to overcome his dyslexia enough to be a proficient reader.

That happened when Iler was running his construction business. “When I started bidding on road jobs,” Iler said. “That’s when I had to get it right.”

Iler Construction Company began when Iler was 39, when he bought his first bulldozer.

Before then he had been involved in many other types of business including boiler making and dairy farming. For a while he operated the Dot Food Store in Foster.

His construction company received many important jobs building roads across Northern Kentucky.

He supervised commissions from Grand Avenue in Newport to lengthy stretches of state routes between 1997 and 1998.

Iler Construction Company’s last important job was the building of future Nunn Drive when NKU was just beginning to rise from its foundation.

After that Iler sold the company for about $1 million and retired in Naples, Florida with his wife Ruth. Iler traded stock, thereby building the rest of his fortune.

Iler’s wife died in October, and in January, Iler’s accountant contacted NKU Director of Planned Giving Nancy Perry to first discuss a sizable gift. His $3 million pledge will be realized upon his death and will pay dividends for decades. As scholarship money, preference will be given to engineering students from Bracken and Pendleton counties.

Iler never considered giving money to any other university. He had already given away much of his property-550 acres he owned in Kentucky, to two family friends.

Now approaching 94, Iler said he isn’t traveling anymore. He keeps busy managing his stock portfolio that is worth $4 million. “And I like to argue with the neighbor ladies,” Iler said with a laugh. “They cut my grass and take care of the place. They keep me hopping.”

During his life Iler learned a set of lessons he formulated to make what he calls the Top 21 Rules. They’re his philosophy of life. The first rule is learning everything has two sides. Another rule lists the tools of a successful person-observe, remember, compare, decide and act.

Iler said any student who wants to know how to succeed in life should read his philosophy. “It’s all there,” he said. “Everything you need to know is in the Top 21 Rules.”