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SUNY Geneseo Blessed By Love

Valentine's Day holds special meaning for the state college at Geneseo thanks to one couple's love for each other and education.
Valentine's Day holds special meaning for the state college at Geneseo thanks to one couple's love for each other and education. 

"Through their estate plan, they left over a third of their estate to [SUNY] Geneseo and for us it really is a staggeringly significant gift," VP for College Advancement Bill Brower said.

It is a gift from Mary and Richard Fernan to the tune of $1.5 million. Richard died in 2008 and Mary just this past June. The college learned of the gift over Christmas. Brower says it is the largest bequest they have ever received.

"Once it's fully funded, we think that it will support roughly 12 full-tuition scholarships each year for students who want to be teachers," he said.

That stems from their love for education and their love for the college too.

"Geneseo played a huge role in their connection," Brower said.

The Fernan's story actually began on campus, where they met by accident. In a letter, Mary wrote that it stems from a charm bracelet she would wear morning, noon and night until it fell off while she was walking to class. 

"The story is she turned around and he bent down and they bumped into each other and tumbled into the bushes and it was love at first sight," Brower said.

The bracelet broke into pieces. But according to the letter, Mary did not mind. She ended up walking away with a better keepsake. 

"They got married in 1945. It is probably in their DNA to give back and now they are going to keep doing it forever here at Geneseo," Brower said. 


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