McDaniel College receives alumna's $3.5 million gift

April 13, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Each year for Christmas, Katherine Leidy Unger would send novels and biographies as gifts to her nieces and nephews.

So it came as no surprise to family members who learned yesterday that the McDaniel College alumna bequeathed money to the school's library.

What stunned them was the amount: $3.5 million.

"It was a shock to the whole family when we found out how much she was leaving," said Unger's niece Beth Myers, 62, of Westminster.

Added McDaniel College President Joan Develin Coley, "It's hard to think of a strong enough adjective -- thrilled, delighted."

Unger, who graduated in 1932 from what was then Western Maryland College, died in February. She was 93.

Over the years, she had been a silent, but consistent, benefactor of the college, having given more than $150,000 for scholarships.

Family members said they have no idea how Unger made such large gifts to the school.

Unger grew up in Westminster and attended school here. She majored in English and history at Western Maryland and taught English at Westminster and Manchester high schools.

In 1945, she married another educator, 1920 Western Maryland graduate W. Byers Unger. They moved to Hanover, N.H., where her husband, who died in 1975, taught zoology at Dartmouth College.

"It was really their gift," Myers said of her aunt's final donation to the college. "My uncle was just as involved."

The gift to the school will become part of the library's endowment fund. The money will be used to enhance the library's book and periodical collections.

Michele Reid, director of the college's Hoover Library, said a bookplate honoring the Ungers will be added to each new purchase.

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