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Mooneyhams leave legacy to Trinity UMC, SMC, Wofford

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Colleges, church reap benefits of connectivity to couple 

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Lillian Champion Mooneyham and her husband, C.B. “Slim” Mooneyham, had connections.  Maybe not the kind you think, but certainly the kind that matter.

Even after her death on May 30, 2007, Mrs. Mooneyham made sure that she and her late husband remained connected to the things they loved, including Trinity United Methodist Church in Spartanburg, Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford College.

Her estate has provided $500,000 to each of these entities.

For Trinity United Methodist Church, where Mrs. Mooneyham was a devoted member, the gift likely is the largest it has received in its 83-year history, according to the Rev. T. Lee Bryant, senior pastor.  “This gift affords unimagined possibilities in the mission and ministry of Trinity.  I am humbled by the gift and excited about the future that it affords our church.  We are truly blessed, both by Lillian’s generosity and by the model for giving that she has lived out.”

Bob Mauney, chairman of the endowment committee at the church, notes that the gift doubles the size of the church’s Building Maintenance Endowment Fund.  “This will allow us to provide for a comfortable and attractive church building, not only today, but also for many years in the future.”

Frank Sanders is connected to all three entities benefiting from the Mooneyham gift – he attended Spartanburg Methodist College, graduated from Wofford, and is chairman of the Trinity board of trustees.

“It’s amazing to know that the Mooneyhams, on a very modest income, were able to accrue this financial wealth, and what a great thing to do with it,” Sanders says.  “They probably had given a lot through the years to various causes, but these gifts to these institutions will go a long way toward helping others.”

The arrival of Slim Mooneyham on the campus of Textile Industrial Institute as a student in 1933 marked the beginning of a more than half a century long connection between this young student and the institution that is now known as Spartanburg Methodist College.  So grateful was he for the educational opportunity the institution afforded him that he would devote his life to helping the college help hundreds of others realize their dream for education. 
 
His leadership at many levels at SMC inspired many of his friends and family members to become committed to the cause of education.  His dedication earned for him many honors during his tenure at SMC including “Alumnus of the Year” in 1980.  In 1984, his family and friends established the C.B. “Slim”Mooneyham and Lillian C. Mooneyham Endowed Athletic Scholarship Fund at the College.  Mrs. Mooneyham was a leading contributor to this fund as well as a supporter of other funds at the college, contributing almost $100,000 during her lifetime. 

The recent bequest from the estate of Mrs. Mooneyham brings the balance in this fund to more than $729,000.  Annual awards from this fund will support student athletes and thus will continue the Mooneyham legacy of extending educational opportunity to students of future generations.   Because Mrs. Mooneyham maintained a close connection of interest and support even after her husband’s death, SMC awarded her the Distinguished Service Award in 1997.
 
“Spartanburg Methodist College benefited immensely from the loyalty and generosity of the Mooneyhams,” says Fletcher Thompson, a 1941 graduate of TII and former trustee for SMC.  “Their very substantial gifts over the years illustrate a connection to SMC much stronger than financial support.  They really raised SMC as well as Trinity Church and Wofford College to the level of family.”

The Mooneyhams were connected to Wofford from the time Slim, a 1934 graduate, was a student.  Even after he died, Mrs. Mooneyham continued to buy season tickets to the men’s basketball games, later relying on friends to get her to the games.  After she could no longer physically make the trip to see the games, she still answered Wofford’s call during the annual Terrier Club phonathons, pledging several thousand dollars each year for the scholarship she established in 1989 in honor of her husband.

At Wofford, the bequest puts the C.B. “Slim” Mooneyham Endowed Scholarship Fund at more than $650,000.  The renamed C.B. and Lillian C. Mooneyham Endowed Scholarship fund will be used each year to support a student-athlete on the college’s men’s basketball or baseball team.

“The Mooneyhams have been generous supporters over the years with their time, energy and resources,” says Marion Peavey, Wofford’s senior vice president for development and college relations.  “They have also been true role models for countless numbers of students.  The Mooneyhams have always been supportive of their church and education.  Their scholarship funds will provide support for generations of students yet to arrive on the Wofford campus.  The entire Wofford community is most grateful for their friendship and support of our young people.”

Slim Mooneyham attended Spartanburg Junior College (now Spartanburg Methodist College) and Boiling Springs College (now Gardner-Webb) before transferring to Wofford.  While at Wofford he played baseball and basketball and taught night classes at SJC.  He took the position of dean of men and lived in Hammond Hall, the men’s dormitory at SJC, also while a student at Wofford.  He went to work full time at SJC after graduating from Wofford and worked in a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative positions for 40 years before retiring.

With no children of their own, the Mooneyhams spent their time supporting the student-athletes that Slim coached.  In addition, Lillian served as a teacher’s aide in Spartanburg County School District 7 and knitted caps and sweaters for the children at the Spartanburg Children’s Shelter.