Loyal to Their Alma Mater
Threadgill brothers turn land into scholarships for top CLAS students
Though Gene and Bob Threadgill's family moved from Miami to Washington DC while the two were still in college, the brothers have remained Florida boys through and through. Their latest gift to the University, a charitable remainder trust worth over $1.3 million, demonstrates their continued affection for their alma mater.
The Threadgill Family Endowment originated in 1990 when Gene, Bob and their brother Samuel sold a piece of family-owned land. Gene was on the Psychology Department's advisory committee at the time and talked his brothers into donating portions of the profit to CLAS. "It was a great deal," says Gene. "By giving to UF, we avoided capital gains taxes, claimed a nice charitable tax deduction, and CLAS got the full sales amount plus 25% more in state matching funds." The endowment supports undergraduate merit scholars and graduate students working toward advanced degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Gene and Bob's recent addition to the Threadgill Family Endowment came from the sale of another piece of property, this time in the form of a charitable remainder trust that gives CLAS the profit but pays members of the families an 8% return on the gross for 20 years, allowing them to supplement their retirements and help out their children and grandchildren.
Both Threadgills have many fond memories of their time in Gainesville. Gene, who earned his BA in social sciences in 1940, recalls playing poker amongst the stored graduation robes in the attic of old Language Hall (now Anderson Hall) with roommate Stan Wimberly, young professors Manning Dauer and Joseph Kusner, and the UF registrar. "I kept in contact with Dauer for years, and I came down to visit a few times when Stan was Dean of Students in the 1970s," says Threadgill, "and we played poker even then."
Literature courses taught by Dr. Clifford Lyons made a big impression on Bob, who studied political science, economics and speech and graduated in 1943. "Lyons was a frustrated actor who had a beautiful Orson Wells voice--he loved to read poems aloud. It was so wonderful listening to him that I've been in love with poetry ever since." Bob also played on the UF tennis team. The sport, which he calls his "first love," is still a big part of his life; he's currently ranked sixth in Florida's 75-and-older bracket.
After graduating from Georgetown Law School in 1944, Gene began his long and successful career with the US Government. He started as a messenger in the Farm Credit Administration, and he did short stints with six other government agencies before becoming first assistant general council for the Postal Rate Commission. In 1973, Threadgill made the novel proposal that political mail ought to be considered non-profit. Manning Dauer testified in favor of the idea for the Democratic party, and George Bush, then party chair, testified in favor of the plan on behalf of the Republicans. Although their efforts failed, years later Congress passed legislation identical to Threadgill's original proposal. And just last May, the Postal Commission declined to increase the postcard rate based on Threadgill's expert testimony. He continues to work part time before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Threadgill lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife, Eve. They have four children and three grandchildren.
After three years in the service (1943-46), Bob also earned a law degree from Georgetown. He worked as a claims adjuster, a mortgage broker, and interestingly, a filmmaker (he helped make two Florida films, Yellowneck and Naked in the Sun: The Story of Osceola) before putting his law degree to use in Orlando, at the Florida Real Estate Commission. "There was a small land boom going on at that time," he explains, "and guys were getting away with murder selling lots by mail, so we policed their ads and set up state guidelines." Then, in 1964 he became chief title attorney at Attorney's Title Insurance Fund in Orlando, and remained there until his retirement in 1987. Bob and his wife, Velma, live in Maitland, Florida, and have three children and seven grandchildren.
The Threadgills are adamant supporters of the Arts and Sciences. "I personally believe in the broad-based education that Liberal Arts and Sciences provides because it gives you many options for professional life," says Gene. "My CLAS degree gave me the communications skills necessary for law school but also prepared me for practicing regulatory law, which used a lot of economics and statistics."
Bob agrees. "I'm still interested in the weather, the moon, and general science topics because of courses I took as an undergraduate, even though these weren't my areas of expertise. It's good for people to have a diverse background before specializing in career courses. Being able to get along with all kinds of people is helpful at the managerial level, but the broad-based skills CLAS offers are also valuable in enjoying life."