By Jenny Gregory
Cleveland, Ga. – During Truett McConnell University’s [TMU] weekly chapel service on Tuesday, the Georgia Baptist Foundation presented the university with a check for over $3.7 million, the largest single private donation in the school’s history.
The gift comes from the estate of the late Ms. Mildred Ruth Brown, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 96. A member of Oakhurst Baptist Church, Brown was also a well-known architect for many years in the Atlanta area.
Born February 16, 1920, Brown was the only child of the late John Robert and Odella “Della” Everilda Brown. Never married and with no children of her own, Brown sought to donate her wealth to a conservative university. She was encouraged to leave her gift to TMU by her attorney and TMU alumnus Larry Bryant, who has a longtime passion for the school. Before her death, Brown entrusted assets to the Georgia Baptist Foundation to be given to the college upon her passing.
Johnathan Gray, President and CEO of the Georgia Baptist Foundation, presented the generous gift during the service while sharing with the audience, “Mr. Bryant encouraged [Brown] to make a gift to the college back in 1994. We discovered that when she passed away, she left her entire estate to Truett McConnell.”
“Mrs. Brown was a remarkable woman,” Gray said. “She had a heart for students and a heart for Christian education.”
“The Georgia Baptist Foundation has had the privilege to serve as the executor of her estate, and it’s with great joy and privilege to share with you, the estate is worth $3.7 million.”
The crowd erupted with applause as the large check was unveiled and presented to the school.
“The largest gift ever given to Truett McConnell was about four years ago by a man’s estate where he gave us $600,000,” Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett McConnell University, said in the announcement. “All of a sudden, a sweet woman with a heart for Jesus, faithful church member all her life, never married, comes and says this is who God has put on my heart.”
Brown’s gift will be distributed to aid several initiatives of the university, several of which will be named in honor of her mother, the late Mrs. Odell Brown.
Part of the gift will be used to purchase the Cleveland Worship Center, an 11,000-sq. ft. addition which will house The Peter and Gredel Walpot School of Education. The gift will also provide the finances needed to purchase the remainder of the available Twin Springs condominiums. This purchase will house more students in the fall and offer more parking for residents.
Finally, more than 2 million dollars will be allotted to the construction of a new academic building—Odell Brown Hall—which will include 12 general use classrooms, faculty offices, and a psychology lab for the Leonhard Schiemer School of Psychology and Biblical Counseling.
“She literally invested all her life for this moment to spend it on something even though she never met you,” Caner said at the conclusion of the service. “We are incredibly grateful for what God has done for us today.”
Jenny Gregory is the Digital Content Specialist for Marketing and Communications at Truett McConnell University.
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