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'Tis the season for giving

Recent gifts add to endowment and special collections.

Billy and Betty Wood establish endowed scholarship at Wofford with $100,000 gift

Gifts to the Sandor Teszler Library special collections enrich educational experience for Wofford students

Blount finds creative way to contribute to Wofford’s long-term growth


Doing Right

Tuition was $350 per semester when Billy Wood ’50 attended Wofford. He fondly remembers chapel services and the way Dr. Walter K. Greene always began his address with “young gentlemen.” He also recalls his experiences in Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity (no longer chartered on campus) and the small scholarship he received from Spartan Mills that helped him meet expenses.

“Wofford was a good thing for me,” says Wood. “The college has always been about the development of the total person.”

Because Wood and his wife, Betty, believe in the college’s mission, they established the Billy W. and Betty T. Wood Endowed Scholarship for a deserving student with a $100,000 gift. The first Wood scholar will receive help with the cost of college in the fall of 2016, and the Woods look forward to meeting their scholarship recipient.

Billy Wood worked in sales for Duke Power. He retired in 1989. Betty Wood secured a job in accounts payable with Smith Wholesale Drugs two weeks after she graduated from high school. She was promoted to office manager, secretary/treasurer and finally treasurer for the entire company, which by that time had become J M Smith Corp. The scholarship gift to Wofford came from proceeds from stock dividends and other investments.

In retirement the Woods remain active in the community. They volunteer with Mobile Meals and support the Hope Center for Children and the Salvation Army through the Duke Energy Retiree Program. They also are active in their church, Southside Baptist in Spartanburg, where they first met. 

“We try to get to as many Wofford events as we can,” says Billy Wood. “We've been fortunate in retirement to have a good relationship with Wofford.”

“We’re huge football fans,” says Betty Wood. The Woods make it to all of the home football games and most of the home men's basketball contests. They attend Homecoming and the 50-year Club Reunion, Great Oaks Society events (for Wofford Fund donors of $2,500 or more annually), the President’s Club Holiday Party and soon the Student-Donor Scholarship Recognition Dinner held each spring. The Woods also have remembered Wofford in their wills.

Billy Wood’s Wofford rat cap sits proudly on a shelf in their den. The Wofford Bible presented to him at Commencement is worn and stuffed with verses and clippings. The names of Wofford’s faculty and staff from the 1949-50 academic year remain legible and a source of pride. 

Billy Wood says that if he could share one message with future generations of Wofford students, it would be “Do right!” Betty and Billy Wood have done just that—in their professional and personal lives—and now through Wofford College. 

“Through their scholarship, the names Betty and Billy Wood will remain a part of Wofford history,” says Susan Gray, director of donor services. “Thanks to their gift, Betty and Billy Wood Scholars will learn through the Wofford experience to ‘do right,’ just like the Woods. What a powerful legacy.” 

Adding enlightenment to the texts

“Reading about the lives of soldiers in World War I can be enlightening, but seeing a WWI soldier’s scrapbook brings the study of the Great War to another level. Working directly with these kinds of resources is among the special characteristics of a Wofford education,” says dean of the Sandor Teszler Library Kevin Reynolds.

To provide as many of these hands-on learning opportunities to students as possible, Reynolds says that the library staff has been focused on building special collections, historical documents in the Archives, and works of art and objects in the permanent collection. Several recent gifts have boosted the library's holdings and in turn enriched the educational experience for students.

David Robinson ’65 donated his mother's collection of pottery dating from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BCE) to the Byzantine Period (ca. 500 CE). While some of the collection will one day be displayed in the new Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, a portion of the collection has been on display this semester, and Reynolds says that the pedagogical value of the collection is apparent.

“At least five different courses have used the collection already this semester, as have other groups,” says Reynolds. “Other faculty members have plans to use it for teaching as well as in-depth student research.”

Another recent gift comes in the form of a 17th-century Dutch portrait, painted in 1620 by Jan Van Ravesteyn. Similar works by Ravesteyn are housed in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery (The Hague), the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and more. The portrait was given by Dr. Francis Robicsek of Charlotte, N.C. Robicsek, a long-time friend of the college, made the donation in honor of Oakley Coburn, dean of the library emeritus.

“This is a fitting tribute to Coburn’s immense effort in building our permanent collection,” says Reynolds. “The work is an excellent example of art of the Baroque movement. We have nothing like this in our permanent collection, and it will be a magnificent teaching resource for art history courses.”

The most recent gift was given on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, as members of the Lone Oak Masonic Lodge #372 presented the college with a portrait of George Washington. The portrait was given in honor of Wayne Bradley ’64, a member of the Lone Oak Lodge, as part of a larger effort to place portraits of George Washington in schools and other institutions around the state.

“They typically sell the portraits as a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Association, but sometimes donate them as a gift, as they did for Wofford,” says Reynolds. “So far, they have placed about 20 portraits in elementary schools in Spartanburg County, one in the South Carolina State House and others in locations around the state.”

The portrait has been custom-framed in local cedar, and includes a plaque in honor of Bradley.

Reynolds is sure that gifts like these have a direct impact on student learning at Wofford.

“When our students have opportunities to engage with primary resources, the experiences they have are extraordinarily rich,” says Reynolds.

Thanks to recent donations, the Sandor Teszler Library is definitely richer.  

From top recruit to top donor

Gary Blount ’10 received a full scholarship to attend Wofford and play football for the Terriers. He still remembers looking at his tuition statement and seeing the zero balance at the bottom. 

“Even then I realized that someone paid that tuition bill for me,” says Blount. “I started giving back as soon as I could, but I'm now in a position to make a big difference one day.”

Blount, a financial adviser with Foresters Financial Services in Charlotte, N.C., decided to augment his annual gift to the college by making Wofford the owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy. 

“I'm young and healthy, so I can get a big policy for a small premium,” says Blount. “I'll make premium payments for 20 years, and Wofford is guaranteed a minimum of $250,000. If I live a normal life expectancy, then the benefit to Wofford would be closer to $890,000.”

According to Smith Patterson ’67, director of gift planning at Wofford, all of Blount's premium payments will qualify as charitable tax deductions, and one day the proceeds from the policy will provide substantial scholarship support for Wofford students. 

“Gary has decided to use the proceeds of the variable whole life policy to create a named, endowed scholarship for a student-athlete on the college’s football team,” says Patterson. “If his Wofford interests change, the criteria for selecting scholarship recipients can change as well.”

Because of both his grades and his athletic ability, Blount was a heavily recruited linebacker from Camden County High School in southern Georgia when he signed with the Terriers. He turned down offers from Harvard, Georgetown and Vanderbilt, among others, to play for head coach Mike Ayers.

“Wofford was the last college I visited, and it turned my search upside down,” says Blount. “I was involved in more than football, and Wofford became home. I benefited so much from my Wofford experience that I feel a sense of responsibility to give back.”

Blount and his wife, Stephanie Cloninger Blount, daughter of Rick Cloninger ’79, have three sons, Noah (3) and twins Levi and Luke (6 mos.).

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89 and Sarah Madden ’17