Granddaughter of Former Greensboro College Business Manager Leaves More Than $500,000 to the College
June 1, 2018
GREENSBORO, N.C. – A granddaughter of the man who served as Greensboro College’s secretary-treasurer a century ago has left the college more than a half-million dollars.
Charlotte Anderson Straney, who was 72 when she died March 25, was a granddaughter of the Rev. Walter Makepeace Curtis, who served as secretary-treasurer and business manager of the college from 1905 to 1939.
Curtis became a key figure in college history. He raised $30,000 to complete the reconstruction of Main Building after a 1904 fire, $107,000 in endowment funds, and money for Fitzgerald Hall, a dormitory. Through astute investing, he kept the college solvent through both World War I and the Great Depression, and staff still frequently refer to the financial history of the college that he wrote upon his retirement in 1939.
Straney’s gift honoring members of her family was announced April 20 by her brother, Chip Anderson, at a luncheon gathering of Curtis descendants at the college. The gift benefits a scholarship fund created 100 years ago and is the most recent manifestation of a relationship between the family and the college that is almost as old as the college itself.
Walter Makepeace Curtis’s mother, Lucy Ellen Makepeace, attended what was then Greensboro Female College in 1855-56, and his first wife, Kate Kendell Wright (who died in 1902) attended in the late 1880s. Their daughter Lucy Kendell Curtis graduated in 1918. W.M. Curtis’s second wife, Leticia Evans Curtis, whom he married in 1908, was a member of the Class of 1903.
Walter Makepeace Curtis’s two sisters, two Makepeace cousins, and four of his other daughters attended Greensboro College in the late 1920s and 1930s. Charlotte Straney’s mother, Grace, also attended Greensboro College before graduating from Duke University.
Still a widower in 1907, Walter Makepeace Curtis bought the property at 108 Odell Place and built a house, into which he moved his mother and his two small daughters. After he and Leticia married, they had four daughters and two sons. That house – the Curtis House – belongs to Greensboro College and today is home to athletic coaches.
After his mother and daughter, both named Lucy, died in 1918, Curtis established the Lucy Curtis Scholarship, which was awarded for 60 years before a second fund, the Leticia Evans Curtis Class of 1903 Scholarship, also was created by her children and grandchildren after her death in 1979. The two funds later were combined as the Lucy and Leticia Evans Curtis Scholarship; the combined fund was valued at $52,053 as of June 30, 2017. Charlotte Straney’s bequest benefits that fund.
Straney also had long wanted the house at 108 Odell Place to be recognized as the Curtis House. After her brother Chip Anderson documented his estate plans for the college as part of its GC 2020 capital campaign, the college recognized the Curtis House with a plaque. Straney was able to see a photo of the plaque in place and give final instructions for the luncheon she had planned at the college before she died March 25.
At that luncheon, Chip Anderson made the surprise announcement of her bequest. He also presented a framed collage, designed and commissioned by Charlotte Straney, now on display in the college’s Brock Historical Museum. It depicts W.M. Curtis’s Greensboro College career and the “long, green line” of Makepeace and Curtis family members with ties to the college.
Greensboro College provides a liberal arts education grounded in the traditions of the United Methodist Church and fosters the intellectual, social, and, spiritual development of all students while supporting their individual needs.
Founded in 1838 and located in downtown Greensboro, the college enrolls about 1,000 students from 29 states and territories, the District of Columbia, and seven foreign countries in its undergraduate liberal-arts program and four master’s degree programs. In addition to rigorous academics and a well-supported Honors program, the school features an 18-sport NCAA Division III athletic program and dozens of service and recreational opportunities.
Lex Alexander, Director of Communications
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