The University of Alabama

The Gift of Land

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For many years friends of The University of Alabama have been generous with gifts of property and timberland to the University. In acknowledgment of those gifts, the University is pleased to announce the official launch of Capstone Lands, where our seasoned professionals have the experience and knowledge to manage the land of those individuals who have shared their good fortune and opened their hearts to donate land and other property to UA.

Honoring tradition

There are several ways that you can donate property or timberland to the University through Capstone Lands. You may donate as an outright gift, like Estelle Taylor did, with the gift being sold and the money put to use immediately.

“I was born and raised in Tuscaloosa,” said Estelle Gardner Taylor, UA class of ‘61. Estelle now lives in Demopolis and runs a marina with her husband, Arthur, also a UA graduate. “I grew up practically on The University of Alabama campus,” she continued. “We would walk home from the old Verner school right through campus. Besides that, my mother was one of eleven children, all were in education and all attended UA. There was no question about where I was going to college.”

Estelle recently donated to the University the four-acre home site in Jefferson County that she inherited from her two sisters. “It is beautiful land, sort of rural, and I felt the best thing to do with it was to give it to the University because we all graduated from UA.

Estelle’s older sister, Anne Gardner, was a school teacher, and her younger sister, Louise Gardner, was a nurse.

Proceeds from the sale of the land are going into a scholarship fund for athletes. “We have a great history with the football team,” Estelle said. “I had an uncle and a great uncle who played for the University back in the old days.”

Tending the land

Another way to give property to the University is through an estate plan, like Bill Oakley of Reston, Virginia has done. Bill received a degree in accounting from UA and later worked in the telecommunications and computer systems fields. He retired as a Lt. Colonel after spending 20 years in the Army.

“I grew up in Columbia, Alabama, near Dothan,” Bill said. “My dad was a farmer and bought and sold land over the years, and many times I walked and explored our family property.” The Oakleys farmed and also raised cattle and hogs, as well as owning a peanut shelling plant. Bill spent summers working on the farms and in the family’s cotton gin and warehouses.

Through a testamentary gift, Bill has decreed that his 1,000 acres of land in Houston and Henry Counties will go to the University after he is gone. His sister, Margaret Oakley Nicholas, who died three years ago, left 500 acres of adjoining timberland to UA.

“The University planted her property in pines and some of those trees are taller than I am,” he said. “It looks great!”

Bill cited three main reasons for donating his property to UA including the fact that his family has been a supporter of the University for years and that he did not want the property to be a burden to succeeding generations of his family who would have no interest in it.

“The third reason is that I believe if the University has control of the property, that they will look after it properly, manage it, and tend it,” he said.

Establishing endowments

Whichever way you decide to donate property to UA, you are able to direct the future proceeds or income to the University programs of your choice.

Phyllis Todd met her husband John while both were in Birmingham. She was in nursing school and he was finishing his internal medicine residency.

They moved to Newfoundland and then to Tampa so he could repay the Air Force for sponsoring his residency. “Following his military service in Newfoundland and Tampa, John and I were looking around for a town that would be a good place for his practice in internal medicine as well as being a great environment to raise our family,” Phyllis said.

“Tuscaloosa seemed to fit the bill. We especially liked the fact that it was a university town. After an interview with a medical group here, John was offered a position and, in 1963, we became a part of Tuscaloosa.”

In 2009, Phyllis gave UA a house that she and her husband had purchased years ago as rental property. The property was sold and the proceeds were used to create The Mary Phyllis Jackson Todd Endowed Library Fund and The John Norton Todd III Memorial Endowment.

“I feel like the library system gives the greatest opportunity for education to be promoted,” Phyllis said of her gift. “As a child growing up in Tupelo, Mississippi, I would ride the city bus to the library and bring home eight to ten books at a time. I love history and the collections at the Hoole (Special Collections Library), and my husband was always an avid reader. I feel fortunate to have been placed in this town, and with the University here I am doubly blessed.”

When accepting gifts of real estate, we must follow the policies of The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama. Generally speaking, land that is held in endowment will be managed by UA, with the income supporting the programs on campus you specify. Proceeds from land or other property that is sold are invested in the University’s endowment pool with income supporting those programs on campus that you specify. Endowments may carry your name or be named in honor of another loved one.

Your gift of land to The University of Alabama will become a treasured part of your family’s proud legacy. Your generosity will help lighten the load for future generations who will call the Capstone home.

For more information about donating land to the University or to request a free brochure on Capstone Lands, call the Office of Planned Giving at (888)875-4438 or visit our website at

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