Two major estate gifts endow new scholarships

Gifts totaling more than $1.3 million from two estates will provide new scholarship support for students with disabilities and for those pursuing studies in music.

​Gifts totaling more than $1.3 million from two estates will provide new scholarship support for students at Elon University. The gifts were received in recent weeks from the estate of Margaret “Peggy” Leister, a 1967 Elon alumna from Towson, Md., and from the estate of Muir William Grant and his wife, Lorraine Fogleman Grant, of Burlington, N.C.

The Leister endowment will provide scholarship aid for students with disabilities, while the Fogleman Grant endowment will support students pursuing studies in music.

“Peggy Leister and Bill and Lorraine Grant demonstrated great vision in planning their estates to further the passions of their lives,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “These planned gifts will make possible a transformative college experience for generations of deserving young men and women. The proceeds of these estates are a permanent and powerful testament to the lives and legacies of these individuals.”

Lambert said these gifts are the leading edge of a growing number of planned gifts that will greatly expand the university’s endowment in the decades ahead. Elon has an exceptionally young alumni body, with more than 90 percent of all graduates in the university’s history still living.

“We have a bright future as Elon alumni and friends build successful careers and lives and begin to plan their estates, following the examples set by these generous donors,” Lambert said. “Planned gifts are the ultimate expression of each family’s passions and values. These gifts form the foundation of a great university’s endowment.”  

Estate gift by Margaret “Peggy” Leister ’67

With a planned gift totaling more than $800,000, Peggy Leister has supplemented her previous gifts to the university in support of Elon students with disabilities who have financial need. The Educational Opportunities Fund for Students with Disabilities, first established in 1993 and supported with annual contributions by Leister, will provide significant student scholarships. A separate endowment created by Leister will expand a fund for students who require special assistance, learning resources or equipment during their studies.

Leister was born with spina bifida and scoliosis. She endured many surgeries throughout her life, but remained upbeat and productive, eventually earning a graduate degree from the University of Wyoming. She pursued a career serving people with disabilities, working for many years with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. She died in April 2013. 

Elon University President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley recalls Leister as a fiercely determined student with an “unbelievable sense of gratitude” to the faculty and staff members she credited with helping her succeed at Elon. Leister’s own experience as a student with disabilities inspired her decision to create the endowment, which is the first of its kind at Elon. 

Estate gift by Muir William Grant and Lorraine Fogleman Grant

A planned gift from the estate of Bill Grant will create the Lorraine Fogleman Grant and Muir William Grant Odyssey Scholarship, which will support talented music majors. Elon’s Odyssey Scholars Program is a selective program that benefits talented students with high financial need who are academically strong, civically engaged and leaders in their communities.   

The new Odyssey award will join the Lorraine Fogleman Grant and Muir William Grant Music Scholarship, which was established by the couple in 1995 to benefit students studying in music, music performance or music education. Odyssey Scholarships are created with endowment gifts of $500,000 or more.

“Lorraine and Bill Grant were long-time patrons of Elon’s music programs and loyal supporters of the university,” said Jo Watts Williams, vice president emerita and a friend of the couple. “They frequently attended concerts on campus and Bill especially cherished the opportunity to get to know students personally and encourage them to pursue careers in music.”

The Grants moved from New Jersey to North Carolina in 1988 after Bill Grant retired as vice president for technology at Ingersoll Rand, a global manufacturing company. The couple lived at The Village at Brookwood retirement community in Burlington; Lorraine Grant passed away in April 2008 and Bill Grant died in July 2013.