Robert Douglas loved Davis & Elkins College. Although he grew up in Charleston, his years spent on campus as a student were transformational. Graduating in 1984, he spoke frequently of professors and friends who remained long-term influencers as his life’s journey unfolded. Rob leveraged his D&E education for a successful career in business, eventually settling in Charlotte, N.C.
In his early 50s he began experiencing health issues and was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. Although he fought valiantly, the disease ultimately claimed his life at the early age of 54. For Rob’s family, friends, professional colleagues and his alma mater, the loss was profoundly felt. The expected years of life that were lost meant lost opportunity for Rob to further impact the world.
In the fall of 2017, Lisa and I, along with the College’s Rosemary Thomas and Wendy Morgan, had a wonderful opportunity to have dinner and spend an evening with Rob’s parents, Bob and Nancy Douglas. Bob and Nancy continue to live in Charleston where Bob is an attorney. Tragically, Bob and Nancy have not only recently dealt with the loss of their son, Rob, but also the death of their daughter and grandson. I was amazed and inspired to discover that despite all the loss and hurt they have experienced, their faith and outlook on life has sustained them. Not only was our evening together enjoyable, but it was also inspirational. They are truly a couple who are a blessing to all who come to know them.
Bob and Nancy Douglas have determined that from their profound loss others will be blessed, and Rob’s legacy will be celebrated and secured at Davis & Elkins College. The Douglases have decided to endow a $2 million scholarship in Rob’s name, doubling their previous commitment. Consequently, students with promise, just like Rob, will be given the opportunity to study at D&E. Robert Douglas Scholars will be on the campus for generations to come, and Rob’s legacy will live on in these young men and women as they graduate and make their own impact upon their communities and our world.
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Rob, nor will any of our Robert Douglas Scholars. However, now I have meaningful insight into Rob’s life through his parents and this scholarship. It is D&E’s responsibility to make sure our students, who become Douglas Scholars, also come to know of Rob and his legacy.
As Davis & Elkins enters the final seven months of our 10-year $100 million Secure the Future Campaign, the generous gift of the Douglas family is being matched through the McDonnell Challenge. This unique opportunity, made possible by Board of Trustees member Jim McDonnell, is matching dollar for dollar every cash gift and estate gift for the final $25 million of the campaign. This rare matching gift opportunity is a challenge to all the alumni and friends of D&E to give generously, and to include the College in estate planning.
My message to all who love D&E is that “Now is the Time” to tangibly demonstrate your support for the institution that Rob Douglas loved.
The journey continues….