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Furman, Mercer universities receive multi-million gifts

GREENVILLE, S.C. (BP)–Two universities with Baptist roots, Furman and Mercer, have received multi-million-dollar gifts.

Furman, in Greenville, S.C., will receive 45 percent of the estimated $400 million holdings of John D. Hollingsworth, 83, who attended the university for just one year. The gesture by Hollingsworth, who died Dec. 30, made the pages of The New York Times, which described the donor as an eccentric, reclusive textile magnate.

Mercer, in Macon, Ga., with a second campus in Atlanta and overall enrollment of 7,400 students, will split an estate with an estimated value of $123 million with Georgia’s LaGrange College. The donors are Remer H. and Emily Fisher Crum who live in the Atlanta area.

The endowment at Furman, a 2,600-student university, previously stood at $260 million, President David Shi told The Times.

Hollingsworth left Furman to join his grandfather’s business, a mobile repair shop founded at the turn of the century. Hollingsworth turned the shop into an international corporation with 1,200 employees controlling 70 percent of the manufacturing of a key piece of equipment, the “teeth,” for combing fibers to make cloth.

He went through a harsh divorce in the 1960s, The Times reported, quoting his lone daughter as saying she had tried for years to reconcile with her father without any response. The newspaper said she was not invited to a graveside service Dec. 31. Hollingsworth had lived in an unassuming trailer on the grounds of his business in Greenville, The Times reported.

Hollingsworth’s estate includes 40,000 acres of prime real estate in South Carolina, the paper reported.

The gift to Mercer, meanwhile, entails one of Atlanta’s prime office parks, the 83 acres known as Century Center Park located between Interstate 85 north and Clairmont Road. The land has a long-term lease that lasts well into the next century.

Remer Crum served as a member of Mercer University’s board of trustees from 1986-91, and he and his wife have been longtime supporters of higher education in Georgia. In 1988, the Crums were awarded lifetime member status in the President’s Club of Mercer.

Crum was educated at Middle Georgia College and the Georgia Institute of Technology, while Emily Fisher Crum was a LaGrange College graduate.

The Crums are members of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

The Century Center property was once a farm belonging to Emily Crum’s mother’s family.

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