Kentucky Couple Gives $10.7 Million Bequest


Published originally in the spring 2009 issue of Berea College Magazine

A Kentucky couple has given Berea College the largest single gift it has ever received. The $10.7 million endowment from their estate will fund student scholarships.

Alfred M. and Mary Swain Wood were longtime Berea College donors until their deaths in 1997 and 2008, respectively. Alfred M. Wood, Acad’14, was born and raised in U.S. Rockcastle County, served in the Navy during World War I and World War II, and then worked as a sales executive with Proctor & Gamble for 39 years. Mary Swain Wood, originally from Henry and Boyle counties, was a children’s book representative. Together, the couple managed a cattle ranch in Oklahoma for more than 25 years.

They also donated $3.2 million to Berea’s St. Joseph’s Hospital, which hospital officials will use to pay for facilities and healthcare initiatives.

Categories: News, People
Tags: Alfred M. Wood, Mary Swain Wood, Philanthropy

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.