More than six decades ago, even before a single brick was placed toward the construction of a college in the midst of the cotton fields along Ramsey Street, Louise and Jim Wilkins could envision the future significance of Methodist University.
He was a hard-working farmer, and she was a dedicated schoolteacher. They wrote a check to help with the fledgling building fund for the school that was chartered in 1956.
Heriot Wilkins, a longtime banker and real estate developer, honored his parents’ legacy and their belief in the importance of education with a $100,000 donation to Methodist University on March 15. The donation will go toward an endowed scholarship in their names.
“They were among the first to help in the construction of Methodist College,” Heriot Wilkins said. “I’m just really proud of the school and what it’s become.”
Heriot Wilkins graduated from Linden School in 1953, about 5 miles from the Methodist University campus. He attended North Carolina State University, where he majored in agricultural education. He remembers the difficulties of balancing his education with trying to make ends meet.
“I worked in the cafeteria making a dollar an hour,” he said. “I hope this donation will help students who couldn’t otherwise afford to go to college.”
His son, Meredith, a 1993 Methodist University graduate who is also a banker, accompanied his father to campus to present the check to President Stan Wearden.
“This is an incredible act of generosity,” Wearden said. “It will keep your parents’ memory alive for years to come.”