A generous donor gift provides a beautiful legacy
By Rick Waters '95
The question comes up nearly every semester: Why does TCU spend so much on planting flowers? “The truth is, we don’t,” says Robert Sulak, director of grounds maintenance. “Our year-round effort to provide seasonal color is extremely cost effective, about 55 percent less than what a commercial landscape firm would charge to maintain our planting beds.”
All 11,000 square feet of them.
They get begonias, caladiums, impatiens, verbenas and coleus in the late spring and summer.
Hibiscus, lantana, marigolds, zinnias and purslane in the fall.
Pansies, flowering kale and cabbage in the winter.
And tulips, dianthus, geraniums, snapdragons and petunias in the early spring when the days of morning frost are past.
Those are just the seasonal beds. The grounds crew also works 15,350 square feet of perennial flower beds (which are less labor intensive) of antique roses, irises, mums, daffodils, daylilies and more.
But the question lingers in the air like honeysuckle scent — who covers the expense?
Her name was Mary Evans Beasley, and she and her husband, Theodore, along with his first wife, Beulah (before she died in 1969), were among the most generous benefactors TCU has known. The Beasleys served on the TCU Board of Trustees for a quarter-century and through the Beasley Foundation have given almost $7.4 million to TCU and Brite Divinity School.
Mary’s passion was flowers, remembers former Chancellor William H. Tucker.
“She was interested in all things beautiful,” Tucker recalls. “On more than one occasion, she attended with great enthusiasm England’s famous Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and would return with wonderful stories about the lovely flowers she saw there.”
During the mid-1980s, much like today, construction abounded on the campus. The library had just been expanded. Ground was broken for Tandy Hall. The Moudy Building was still brand new. The campus was growing, but it lacked some of the greenery and lushness it once had.
“It wasn’t barren, but we needed to make an effort to make the grounds more attractive,” Tucker said. “The Beasleys and I had been talking, as we regularly did, and I suggested a gift for campus beautification. For Mary, it became the perfect match of donor and project.”
She gave $100,000 for this purpose in July 1987, and thus began the Mary Evans Beasley Endowment Fund for Campus Beautification. Additional gifts of $350,000 came every year from 1988 to 1997, followed by another $200,000 by bequest at her death in 2005. Today, market value of the fund exceeds $800,000, and it continues to pay for maintaining the campus grounds, rotating the flower beds and keeping the lawns watered.
“She was a person of wonderful taste and delighted in beauty where she found it,” Tucker said. “Her gift will last for decades to come. It is difficult to place a value on just how beautiful a campus we have. That was her gift.”