An Extraordinary Gift Honors Community of Trust Junie Bishop '41 created a fixed-term charitable trust twenty years ago that will make a significant difference at W&L in 2020.
At nearly 101 years old, Alfred Thomas “Junie” Bishop ’41 has been a dedicated and proud alumnus of W&L. He and wife Helen were loyal Annual Fund donors and rarely missed a local Alumni Chapter event or an opportunity to return to campus for a reunion gathering. Wanting to make a significant contribution, Junie Bishop created a fixed-term charitable trust twenty years ago that will make a significant difference at W&L in 2020 — especially considering that the gift realized this year was not designated for a specific purpose. In a year of unprecedented challenges, the power of unrestricted giving is undeniable.
When W&L along with educational institutions across the country are facing issues related to operating during the global COVID-19 pandemic, attempting to keep its educational communities safe, and dealing with economic reverberations that will last for years, undesignated financial gifts are immensely important to the university this year and every year. “This planned gift was truly ‘not unmindful of the future,’ as it benefits the university during a time that no governing board could have anticipated,” said Director of Gift Planning Jamie Killorin. “Mr. and Mrs. Bishop made a remarkable gift to W&L that will help the university thrive during a challenging period in our history,” she said.
“Attendance at W&L was a key factor in my life providing training in education, integrity and friendships.”
~ Junie Bishop ’41
In a conversation with Junie Bishop’s oldest son, Lee, he shared special insight into his father’s life, his motivations, and his philanthropy.
Bishop, the son of German immigrants, was the first in his family to attend college. He called Louisville, Kentucky, home and won a football scholarship to attend W&L. On campus, he was a star running back for the football team, president of Alpha Tau Omega, served on the Interfraternity Council, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. Bishop met Helen Lewis, a student at Longwood College, at a fraternity party in Lexington. The two were married for more than 75 years. Helen Bishop passed away in 2019.
“Growing up in an immigrant family with a limited educational background made an impression on Dad,” Lee Bishop said. “The education he received at W&L gave him the boost he needed to be successful, and he knew what a big deal it was.”
After earning a degree in commerce, Bishop served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and again in Air Research and Development Command during the Korean War. He returned to Louisville, where he became the general manager, and later president and owner, of the Monarch Equipment Company. The couple retired to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where Bishop enjoyed playing golf. Bishop was inducted into the Washington and Lee Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 for his contributions to football during 1937 – 1941.
While the Bishops supported many initiatives at W&L, they did not choose to direct their planned gift. “I just want W&L to use it how it will best fit the needs of the university,” Bishop said.
His son echoed that statement. “The culture [of W&L] is part of our DNA,” Lee Bishop said. “The Honor System and the graciousness on campus — those qualities are hard to find. Dad just wanted the university to keep moving forward.”
Helen and Junie Bishop were recognized in 1997 on W&L’s Honored Benefactors Wall, a physical space on campus that celebrates the university’s most generous donors. About the honor, Bishop wrote: “I feel that it is a privilege to be able to contribute my small bit to the institution to which I am indebted. Attendance at W&L was a key factor in my life providing training in education, integrity and friendships.”
For more information about planned giving at W&L, please visit this page.