Death of longtime Elon benefactor William E. Loy Jr.
Through his philanthropic contributions, Loy made possible much of the expansion of the Elon campus during the past 20 years.
William E. Loy Jr., a longtime benefactor and friend of Elon University, passed away on Thursday, Dec. 22. He was 95. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 28, in the Lowe Funeral Home Chapel in Burlington, N.C. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, at Lowe Funeral Home.
A native of Alamance County and a soldier in the U.S. Army, Loy was locked in a World War II battle in a German forest when he made a personal pledge to improve his community if he survived the war. When he returned home to Elon he kept true to that promise. He was instrumental in establishing the Town of Elon’s fire department, serving as fire chief and remaining involved in the department’s board of directors.
He also played a major role in the growth of his hometown college, where he met his future wife, the late Elizabeth “Lib” Apple Loy ’47, at an Elon football game. Over the course of many years, he donated property and helped Elon obtain additional parcels that have been key pieces in the university’s campus master plan.
Today, Loy’s legacy is felt throughout campus. Loy Center, the fraternity and sorority community near Moseley Center, was given to Elon in 1997 by Bill in loving memory of his wife, who was a member of Beta Omicron Beta sorority (now Elon’s Delta Zeta Chapter). Since then, the Loy Center Neighborhood has tripled in size and now houses 18 chapter facilities.
In addition to Loy Center, he also bequeathed to Elon his home and adjacent seven acres of property along with approximately 20 acres of farmland on the east side of North O’Kelly Avenue and south of University Drive. He remained living in the estate until his death and was often seen walking the trails behind his house.
Loy also made it possible for Elon to acquire the Loy family homestead along Front Street, the site for Loy Farm, a campus facility that includes the Elon Environmental Center a community garden and a solar power generating facility. In total, Loy contributed more than $1.6 million in gifts to the university.
“Bill Loy's life was characterized by generosity and community service,” Elon University President Leo M. Lambert said. “He was a remarkable example of what ‘the greatest generation’ stood for. And he loved Elon students and campus life. No one was prouder of Elon's growth and development, and I will be forever grateful that Bill was a friend and advisor to both President Emeritus Fred Young and me."
Born Feb. 2, 1921, Bill Loy was the son of the late William Ervin and Bettie Ann Westmoreland Loy. He was one of 13 children who grew up on the family tobacco farm next to Magnolia Cemetery. Loy was too young to enlist when World War II broke out, so he decided to train as a machinist instead. After going to school for eight hours a night for three months, he went to work for the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore, where he built B-26 planes. “We got to the point where every four hours we were rolling a B-26 bomber out the back door,” he said in a video recounting his wartime service.
Loy was eventually drafted in 1944 and was trained as a rifleman and soon ended up in France with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. A decorated veteran, he took part in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, one of the bloodiest encounters of the war on German soil. “I had some mighty, mighty close calls,” he said of the experience. “There were times I thought I’d never see home again, but I was one of the lucky ones.” It was during that time he made the promise to transform his community. “The promise I made when I was in the Hürtgen Forest was that I try to make my community a better place,” he said in a recent interview with Elon News Network, “and it stayed on my mind.”
For his dedication to his community, the Town of Elon presented Loy with the Outstanding Citizen Award in 1999, and in 2012 the town named its fire-training tower in recognition of his 62 years of faithful service as a volunteer firefighter. In tribute to his generous support of the university, Loy was recognized in 2003 with the Elon Medallion, the highest honor the university bestows.
“We are so grateful to Bill and Lib for making so much of Elon possible,” said Jo Watts Williams ’55, vice president emerita and lifelong friend of the Loys. “Bill was a kind and caring person. He has been very generous to the university and a longtime friend. We will miss him dearly.”
Memorials may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell; 914 Chapel Hill Rd. Burlington, NC 27215.