Skip directly to content

The Gift of Giving

on Tue, 02/14/2017 - 18:09

So, you’ve decided to donate money to a cause or institution you passionately support. Choosing where to invest your money can be a difficult decision. But it wasn’t for the late Wirt C. Belcher, a lifelong West Virginian and alumnus of West Virginia University, whose generosity continues to benefit his alma mater. 

Belcher was born in Saulsville, W.Va. and earned a master’s degree from the WVU College of Human Resources and Education – now the College of Education and Human Services – in 1951. Following the passing of his wife, Mae, in 1999 and before his passing in 2005, Belcher created the Wirt C. and Mae S. Belcher Endowment Fund through the WVU Foundation to support education and research at WVU.

With an estate valued at more than $1 million, Belcher said in an interview before his death that he “had to leave the money to someone” and that he’d “rather give it to the University than to the government.”

The fund annually benefits the WVU Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry, as well as the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Law.

“I gave to the College of Human Resources and Education because I got my degree from there,” Belcher said when he created the endowment. “I chose the School of Medicine because everyone needs a doctor, and also because I had a college professor who invited me to his house and told me I should go to med school. I was his top lab student, but I couldn’t afford medical school. I gave to the School of Dentistry because I lost all of my teeth. Everybody needs a dentist.”

And regarding his decision to donate to the WVU College of Law, Belcher had a witty response for that as well.

“Well, I always got myself into trouble, and everybody needs someone to defend them.”

The most recent gift of $100,000 from the Belcher fund will be split evenly by the five schools and colleges to support students, faculty and staff.

But while the fund has generously provided opportunities for colleges and programs across the WVU campus, monetary donations weren’t the only way Wirt and Mae Belcher chose to make an impact in the lives of others.

Both Belcher and his wife were lifelong residents of West Virginia and former educators, and while they didn’t have any children, they dedicated their lives to educating and serving others.

Wirt Belcher first received a teaching certificate, followed by a bachelor’s degree from Concord College in 1936, teaching in Wyoming County schools.

Mae Belcher also received a teaching certificate as well as a bachelor’s degree from Concord College in 1943. Mae would then attend Duke University, Marshall College and Columbia University where she’d receive a master’s degree, principal’s certificate and supervisor’s certificate.

Mae was also elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1958, where she’d move on to serve two terms.

Wirt Belcher died June 19, 2005, just six years following the death of his wife in August 1999.

For more information on how you can support WVU, contact the WVU Foundation, 304-284-4000, or visit