Millions from trust heading to Goucher

Principal from fund set up by alumna more than $6 million

July 22, 2000|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

Goucher College has received the largest gift in its history, the $6.08 million principal of a trust initiated by a woman who attended the school for one year in 1918.

The trust, set up in 1982, came out of the will of Charlotte Killmon Wright Brown of San Antonio, who died in 1981.

"By the time I heard about it, she was already dead," said Rhoda M. Dorsey, president of Goucher from 1974 to 1994. "I don't think we will ever know why she did it."

Dorsey said Brown was the daughter of a Methodist minister from Western Maryland. "That is probably why she went to Goucher," which was founded as a Methodist school, Dorsey said.

Brown lived in New Jersey and Mexico before moving to San Antonio. She was a stock trader and account manager who made investment decisions for family and friends, turning an initial stake of $4,000 into her personal fortune.

"As she was writing her will, her lawyer suggested she could leave some money to her college," Dorsey said. "For some reason, this struck a responsive chord."

When the trust was set up, its income was divided among Goucher, Brown's sister, Dorothy Killmon Turner of Baltimore, and Brown's daughter, Elizabeth Benson Wright of Michigan. That income has already given Goucher $1.4 million.

When Wright, Brown's last survivor, died in May, the trust was ended and its principle was designated for the college.

Dorsey said she knew in 1982 that Goucher would eventually get that principal. "We were told it was going to be $1 million, and we danced in the hallways because this was my first $1 million gift," she said. "Now that it turns out to be $6 million, that's even more wonderful."

Income from this money will be used for need-based scholarships.

"Generations of Goucher students will be supported by this extraordinary gift," said Goucher President Judy Jolley Mohraz, who will leave the school next month to take over a foundation in Arizona. "It is a splendid reminder to us all of the power of philanthropy."

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