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Guy '22 & Agnes Nelson

>Charitable Remainder Unitrust

NelsonsAgnes Majes Nelson went to work when she was 13 years old. The daughter of German immigrants, she spent the next 35 years as a companion and practical nurse for wealthy older people. In addition to caring for her clients, she learned from them — about investments, history and culture. She was 48 when she married Dr. Guy M. Nelson ’22; he was 62. They met at the Drake Hotel in old Philadelphia where Agnes’s client lived and Guy’s internal medicine practice was located. They loved the symphony, art museums, fine food and opera. Both devoted their lives to the service and gentle care of others. In Guy’s final years when illness struck, Agnes nursed him, always referring to him as “Doctor,” completely devoted, still in love.

The story of Agnes and Guy Nelson could read like a period romance, but instead it is a story of their careful planning and the desire, even long after their deaths, to help others.
Before Guy died in December 1993, he established a testamentary trust for the benefit of his wife. Foremost, the trust ensured that Agnes would be financially secure for the remainder of her life. It also allowed the Nelsons, both frugal and investment savy, to avoid significant estate taxes while making an endowed gift to Wofford.

“On several occasions Agnes told me that Guy repeatedly expressed his appreciation to Wofford for preparing him for the rigors of Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia,” says Smith Patterson ’67, former director of gift planning at Wofford. “Although they maintained a low profile with the college, Guy and Agnes always made an annual trip to Florida, and when convenient, they drove through the Wofford campus to observe the physical changes.”

When Agnes died, the college realized the full benefit of the Nelson’s generosity. The remainder of the estate donated to the college came to $1.3 million, or the equivalent of two and a half full scholarships.
 
The money was given in memory of Guy’s father, Dr. Augustus M. Nelson, a “country doctor” in Spartanburg who sent his seven sons to Wofford between 1918 and 1937. The money helped meet a challenge from the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation Inc.

“During my last conversation with Agnes, she asked me about the current state of the college, and especially how the pre-med program is doing. I assured her that we were graduating outstanding candidates for medical school and that one day they would be outstanding physicians. At that point Agnes got right in my face, looked into my eyes and said, ‘Smith, I know they have got to be smart, but are they good persons who will care about their patients as individuals and respect their needs — just as Doctor did with his?’ It was this attitude that made her a delight to be with,” says Patterson. “I think she would be pleased with the way the college is using her family’s legacy to benefit future generations of servant-leaders.”

by JoAnn Mitchell Brasington ’89

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