Stuckey's New Book Chronicles 'Big Gifts' to Wilmington College

Book Signing Set for Oct. 13, 1 to 2:30 p.m., Watson Library

October 6, 2011

Roy Joe and Ruth Stuckey enjoy browsing his

Roy Joe and Ruth Stuckey enjoy browsing his "Big Gifts" book upon its delivery in August.

Wilmington College’s Latin motto, non saltu sed multis gradibus, translates to “not by giant leaps, but by many steps.”

Roy Joe Stuckey details many of those most important steps that occurred since WC’s founding 141 years ago in his new book Big Gifts to Wilmington College in Three Centuries: An Abbreviated Memoir and Personal History.

He calls upon his seven-decade affiliation with WC for a unique perspective on what has led the institution to this day.

Stuckey has been many things to his alma mater: student, alumnus (Class of 1948), agriculture program founder, faculty member, administrator, fundraiser, philanthropist, trustee and, now, historian. He wears each of those hats as he takes the reader via the big gifts theme through the College’s history, from its founding by local Quakers in 1870 through the conclusion of Dan DiBiasio’s presidency this summer.

He highlights the often-transforming gifts of time, treasure and talent offered by numerous individuals — some well known in the College’s history and others only now being given due recognition.

Over 20 chapters, Stuckey, who is obviously blessed with an excellent long-term memory, looks at presidents, key faculty and staff members, trustees, major donors and others that have made major contributions to Wilmington College.

“I had a story to tell and I wanted to get it told,” the 84-year-old Stuckey said.

Big Gifts is the companion piece to his 2008 History of Agriculture at Wilmington College: Sixty Years and Beyond.

Both books feature Stuckey’s sincere, “just folks” tone and his belief that all persons possess an inherent, albeit sometimes latent, goodness and willingness to share of oneself.

Stuckey hopes his book will inspire support for his “beloved” Wilmington College at a pivotal time when small, independent, church-related institutions like WC are facing economic and demographic challenges.

“I hope this book will inspire many more persons to make major gifts to WC,” he said. “I believe powerful inspiration can come from the proper recognition of gifts already made and from describing some of the deep and lasting satisfactions to be gained from giving them.”

Indeed, he already has been gratified to hear persons that have the book say, “Roy Joe, reading your book caused me to consider what more I can do for WC,” he noted.

While many might consider the term “big gifts” to have an exclusively monetary connotation, Stuckey not only salutes those that have given transforming financial contributions, but he makes a special effort to shine a light upon those whose service and commitment to the institution also has been especially significant.

“It’s obvious that dollars are important, but commitment and service over a long period of time is often even more important than money,” he said.

Case in point: W. Brooke Morgan Jr.

Stuckey calls him “an unsung hero in the College’s history” that served “continuously, consistently and significantly” for more than 44 years. He was a mathematics instructor, dean of men, work coordinator, veterans liaison, business manager, interim president for 21 months, vice president for business affairs and, in semi-retirement, the College’s director of planned giving and internal auditor.

“He was quiet, unassuming and never self-promoting,” Stuckey wrote, “but Brooke was always on top of affairs that were vital to Wilmington College. His tools were a bear trap mind, a strong work ethic and a fierce commitment to ethical standards.”

Stuckey went on to cite examples of Morgan’s collegiality, dedication and impressive ethical bearing.
The late Meriam R. Hare provided the largest gift in College history — a $3.5 million estate bequest that funded the Quaker Heritage Center that bears her name.

Stuckey knew her since they met as local farm kids in the second grade. They were both freshmen at WC before Hare went on to study at Stanford University. Both served on the College’s Board of Trustees.

He tells the story of Hare’s wealthy family and the College being interested in the same 227 acres of farmland that was for sale at a sheriff’s auction in 1947.

In deference to the College, the Hares refrained from bidding against the money-strapped institution for land that would become the foundation of the nascent agriculture program.

“Meriam Hare’s big gifts to Wilmington College were many — big dollars, sound advice, enduring loyalty and a lasting legacy,” he wrote.

Stuckey noted he often thinks of his old friend while sitting in the T. Canby Jones Meetinghouse, which is part of WC’s Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center.

“I believe that when I die, my spirit will join that of my friend, Meriam, as part of the Infinite Spirit of the Universe,” he said.

Stuckey has given copies of Big Gifts to each living person mentioned in the book, whiles others with a potential “big gift” interest in the College also are receiving copies.

He mentioned there are “a handful of persons” whom he would most like to impress with the book, including his family and persons that share a “similar span of lifetime observation” at WC.

The short list includes Rebecca Marble, a former first lady at WC; Muriel Specht Hiatt, a retired dean of women and emeritus trustee; and Ira G. Hawk, a classmate of Stuckey’s and former College administrator. Sadly, Robert Warren, another member of that exclusive list, recently died.

In addition to the satisfaction gained by responses from those that read the book, Stuckey has realized another, especially personal, benefit of being an octogenarian author.

“I really get a lot of pleasure out of reading and re-reading my own words,” he said. “It brings me back to wonderful things and wonderful times — I can picture many of those words being spoken.

“It’s interesting to see how it’s all flowed together,” he added. “Gifts came at opportune moments when they were most needed, and one of those opportune moments in the College’s history is now.”

Big Gifts to Wilmington College in Three Centuries is available at Books-N-More in downtown Wilmington. Also, Stuckey will be on hand to autograph copies Thursday (Oct. 13), from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at WC’s Watson Library.

Book Signing for Roy Joe Stuckey's "Big Gifts to Wilmington College in Three Centuries"

Time: 1:00 PM until 2:30 PM
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011
Location: Watson Library

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