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Few, if any, who knew the late Lorene Shaver would have thought her to be a wealthy woman.
That was the impression of Benton resident Marvin Gay, who recently has settled the estate for Mrs. Shaver.
"Most people didn't know she had anything," Gay said.
He recalled receiving a phone call from the woman in which she asked him to "take care of things for me when I die."
According to Gay, she meant that she wanted him to pay any bills she owed and to make certain that her estate would benefit certain institutions, including Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
"I told her not to worry," Gay said. "I said, 'we'll work it out just like you want.'"
Gay said he recently has complied with all of Mrs. Shaver's wishes, but is especially happy to complete her final request.
That specific instruction â€” following the dispersement of several specific gifts â€” was that "anything that's left is to go to Ouachita."
"She left a generous amount to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, a sizable amount to her church (Geyer Springs Baptist), a donation to her cemetery (located in Jacksonville) and some to family members," he said.
After Mrs. Shaver's bills were paid and all the specified bequests were completed, Gay said the amount remaining came to $277,680. "And that is what is being given today to Ouachita," he said.
Accepting the donation was Dr. Rex Horne, president of Ouachita.
Benton resident Susie Everett, a newly appointed member of the OBU Board of Trustees, observed the presentation that took place at Benton's First Baptist Church, where she and Gay are members.
"What a blessing this is," Horne said. "It couldn't have happened at a better time than now when we're awarding scholarships."
"I'm happy to get to be a part of the experience," Everett said. "It's exciting for the school to receive donations like this that can mean scholarships and other means of help for the students."
Everett said she is enjoying her new role as an OBU Board member.
"I never thought I'd get to be a part of something like this," she said. "It's exciting to see what is being done to help the school and the students.
"And what a wonderful thing this was for Mrs. Shaver to do," she added. "So many students will be helped by her generosity."
Ouachita Baptist University, located in Arkadelphia, is a private, liberal arts, undergraduate institution that is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
The university's name is taken from the Ouachita River, which forms the eastern campus boundary.
The school was founded as Ouachita Baptist College on Sept. 6, 1886, and has operated continually since that date.
Its original location was the campus of Ouachita Baptist High School. The present location is on the former campus of the Arkansas School for the Blind, which relocated to Little Rock.