Couple Makes Largest School of Education Endowment Possible

 
By Rachel Phelps ('09)

Left to right: VP Jon North, Harold and Betty Brown, and son Sam Brown (FS ’76)

Receiving a gift of more than $50,000 from an estate is a blessing for MNU. Seeing that donation doubled through the generosity of a family tie is a moment to treasure.

More than 20 years ago, Harold Brown suggested that his aunt, Dorothy Fisher, include MNU in her estate plans. He and his wife, Betty, relocated to Courtland, Kan., to assist Fisher with the family farm following the passing of her brother. The Browns had ties to the university, as three of their five sons were students in the 1970s. With no children of her own, Fisher took her nephew’s advice, setting up a revocable trust naming MNU.

When Fisher passed away in April 2012, MNU received a gift of $53,540 from her estate. In accordance with the wishes of her family, the Fisher-Brown Family Scholarship Fund, an endowment providing scholarships to juniors and seniors majoring in teacher education, was established.

When MNU development staff visited the Browns to thank them for their involvement in the donation, they received a pleasant surprise. The Browns, having prayed about their own inheritance from Fisher, said they felt led to match her donation. Betty Brown then handed Jon North ('92, MBA '95), vice president for university advancement, a check for $53,541.

“Seeing the tears of joy expressed by this wonderful couple – who have lived on Social Security for 20 years – is something I will never forget,” says Tim Keeton, associate vice president for university advancement. “They gave out of obedience to what the Lord made possible. We were truly humbled by their generosity.”

As members of the Church of the Nazarene in Kingston and later in Burr Oak, Kan., the Browns made a commitment early in their lives to give generously, even when their finances were limited.

“Both Harold and Betty are people of strong faith,” Keeton adds. “The matching gift they provided to MNU represented a ‘tithe’ and the pattern of their lives.”

The endowment is the largest one-time donation the School of Education has ever received. Dr. Nancy Damron, dean, says education is a field under increasing scrutiny and demands, and the endowment will help counter rising costs to students.

“This kind of support is inspiring,” Damron says. “They have left a legacy mark on our program. Their Christ-like example has also left one on our hearts.”