Georgetown, has been made the beneficiary of a gift of $160,000, provided
by the late Mrs. Louisa Elizabeth Wiess of Houston, mother of Harry C.
Wiess, president of the Humble Oil and Refining Company, and sister of
Mrs. C. S. Belford and the late Mrs. J. H. Hodges, both of Georgetown,
it was announced by University authorities in Houston Monday.
The gift was offered
prior to the death of Mrs. Wiess on condition that the University pay
off all indebtedness and raise an additional sum of $40,000 by March
1, 1937. The University was successful in meeting the conditions, and
last Saturday the South Texas Commercial National Bank delivered to the
trustees of the school the funds provided by Mrs. Wiess, cooperating with
her son, Mr. Harry C. Wiess.
campaign for funds to meet the conditions imposed by the Wiess gift was
conducted quietly. It is understood that about $60,000 of the $145,000
obtained was contributed by former students and friends of the University
Late in January
Dr. J. W. Bergin, president of the University, contacted the directors
of the Chamber of Commerce and laid down the program as submitted to the
University by the Wiess estate. Dr. Bergin in his statement, explained
that the total debt of the University had been set at $135,000, which
included a substantial reduction in the amount owed a Missouri
life insurance company. In addition to that
amount, he said $40,000 would have to be met to comply with the conditions
of the grant.
He then proposed
to the directors that Georgetown raise
$30,000, which was half of the local indebtedness owed by the school.
The directors in executive session decided that th.... (??...... whole
line missing ..???) the drive.
A steering committee
composed of O. A. Engelbrecht, R. L. Gallaway, C. E. Harris and A. W.
Carlson was then named to direct the drive. Members of the soliciting
committee as named were A. W. Sillure, W. P. Hoffman Jr., Tom Lundblad,
A. Pieper, D. P. Irvine, Eric Lundblad, M. F. Smith, J. M. Sharpe, H.
G. Friedrich, J. Clint Rogers, Jack Gillum, J. T. Atkin, B. A. Wyatt,
Sam V. Stone, J. M. May, E. H. Eanes, D. W. . Wilcox, S. E. Wilcox, Robt.
W. Cooper, W. P. Young, F. E. Buchholz, B. J. Bruton, R. R. Messer, H.
E. Richardson, Jno. N. Ellyson, H. Winfrey.
Active work was commenced
after the formation of the organization, and by the latter part of. February
some $34,000 was turned over to University authorities by the committee.
Several days after the
filing of this report with the proper authorities, an emergency demand
was brought to the committee from Houston, where
it was revealed that some $16,000 more was needed to consummate the program.
The committee, together with a number of citizens, then put on a last-minute
drive, and within a few days had the desired amount raised, bringing
Georgetown's contribution to the campaign fund
to over $51,000.
School Free of Debt
One splendid feature
of the program is the fact that with the receiving of the Wiess bequest,
the school is completely clear of debt, and at the present time has an
endowment of over $500,000.
Members of the Board
of Trustees made a formal announcement Monday addressed to Dr. John W.
Bergin, president of the school. It reads as follows:
To President John W.
Bergin, D. D.,
President Southwestern University, Georgetown,
On June 30th, 1936, Mrs.
Elizabeth Wiess of Houston, Texas, set apart certain stocks, worth at
that time in excess of $100,000, and appointed the Honorable Frank Andrews
of Houston, Texas, as her Trustee, with instructions to deliver these
stocks to Southwestern University, located at Georgetown, Texas, as an
outright gift, provided that all indebtedness of whatever description
against the institution be liquidated, and an additional amount of $40,000
be secured for the endowment fund of the University on or before March
Through the succeeding
months the officials of the University, together with the alumni, ex-students
and friends of the institution have cooperated in a quiet but most effective
fashion to meet the terms required, and to secure the gift. It was necessary
to raise $105,000 to cover indebtedness, the major portion of which had
been created during a building campaign shortly before the depression;
this, together with the $40,000 required for the endowment, made a total
of $145,000 to be raised. We are happy to report to you that this entire
amount was secured in cash and negotiable securities by March First. No
public or widespread campaign was entered into; less than two hundred
individuals, all of them former students, patrons, or close friends of
the University comprise the list of contributors. To attempt to name those
responsible for this magnificent achievement would be to name the entire
list of contributors and workers, every one of whom exerted himself or
herself to the utmost that the goal might be achieved.
The net result
of the accomplishment is that Southwestern
freed from all indebtedness of any description, and, since the value of
the bequest of Mrs. Wiess is now in excess of $160,000, that $200,000
has been added to the endowment fund.
now the mother school of
Texas Methodism. Established in Georgetown
in 1873, through the merging of several smaller
Methodist Colleges, it was designed to be the central educational institution
of the denomination in Texas, and it
has been a dominant factor in the educational life of the entire Southwest
for two generations. From its halls have come many of the outstanding
citizens, in every walk of life, and in every section of the Southwest.
Ideally situated in a small community of commanding moral and intellectual
type, the wholesome influence of the school upon the lives of its thousands
of students through these sixty-four years has been supplement at
all times by
the high moral and religious tone of the city of Georgetown. In this community and in this
atmosphere Mrs. Louisa Elizabeth Wiess spent her childhood and young womanhood,
and from Georgetown she
went to Beaumont as
the bride of Captain William Wiess, who was to become one of the foremost
citizens and capitalists of the South. Captain and Mrs. Wiess not only
occupied a position of social and financial prestige in their city and
State, they also were outstanding in their devotion to every cause that
promoted the welfare of their fellow-men, and especially were they devoted
to their Church, the Methodist, and all its interests. For many years
Captain Wiess was a Trustee and strong supporter of Southwestern
University. Following his death Mrs. Wiess maintained
the active interest both had felt for the institution. Because of this
interest and affection on the part of his mother, and having in mind his
honored father's long connection with Southwestern University, and that
his mother might have in her declining years the joy of making so significant
a gift to the institution, upon which she and her sainted husband had
lavished so much of time and money in years gone by, Mr. Harry C. Wiess,
the President of the Humble Oil and Refining Co., last June proposed to
his mother that she make the bequest described above. Mrs. Wiess joyfully
acquiesced in the suggestion and executed the necessary instrument on
June 26th. This was possibly the last business transaction of Mrs. Wiess'
life, as within a few days thereafter, she was called to her Heavenly
It is proper to say that
Mr. Wiess and his mother were led to make the gift, not only for the reasons
cited above, but because of the hearty approval of their attorney and
close personal friend, the late Col. Frank Andrews, whose counsel they
sought in this matter. It reflects honor and credit upon Southwestern
us to remember that Col. Andrews was himself an alumnus of that institution,
and one whose noble career and exalted character in public and private
life were an inspiration, not only to his Alma Mater, but to all who knew
Not only because of the
magnificence of the gift itself, but because of the holy sentiments and
influences actuating its donors, it gives us great satisfaction to report
that Southwestern has met the terms prescribed. The South Texas Commercial
National Bank, made trustee of the bequests following the death of Col.
Andrews, has formally awarded the gift, and the transaction is completed.
The University is under lasting obligation to the bank for its