Warren Wilson College has received one of the largest individual gifts in its history through an unrestricted $500,000 bequest from the late Marian Elmslie of Black Mountain.
Elmslie relocated from the Midwest to Asheville in 1960 with her husband, Cliff. After Cliff Elmslie died in 1985, she moved to Highland Farms Retirement Community in Black Mountain. Through volunteer work, she met several women associated with Warren Wilson and became impressed with the college’s liberal-arts education and governance system.
Elmslie’s most recent trip to Warren Wilson occurred when she attended a luncheon at the president’s home in September 2006. Both Sandy and Evelyn Pfeiffer recall her kind comments about the college at that event – and the nice thank-you note that followed. Sandy Pfeiffer notes that “Mrs. Elmslie was a loyal friend of Warren Wilson. For years to come, we will benefit from the extraordinary generosity she has shown to our college.”
Previously, Elmslie had funded a charitable gift annuity at Warren Wilson, supporting the college’s general endowment and scholarship programs. She was a longtime proponent of women’s education, serving as an active member of the American Association of University Women (now known as AAUW) for half a century. Elmslie herself held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French.
“Marian was just a wonderful woman,” said Carla Sutherland, vice president for college relations (now advancement) at Warren Wilson from 1991 until her retirement in 2007. “She loved meeting with our French-speaking students – that was the biggest treat for her.
“Marian had a keen mind and was always very inquisitive. She kept me on my toes.”