Virginia Beach woman leaves record $4 million bequest to EVMS

Posted at 12:36 PM, Jan 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-14 12:36:54-05

Norfolk, Va. – Virginia Glennan Ferguson of Virginia Beach passed away in December at 96. But her legacy will live on for generations at EVMS.

The late Mrs. Ferguson, whose $2 million gift in 1995 established the EVMS Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, left a bequest of $4 million to support the Glennan Center endowment. It is the largest charitable gift EVMS has ever received from an individual.

Through her estate, she also made a gift of $250,000 to support the Westminster-Canterbury Endowed Professorship, as well as a commitment of $1.6 million from a charitable remainder trust that will eventually support the Glennan Center. This brings her total contributions to EVMS to more than $7 million, making her the school’s most generous individual benefactor in its 40-year history.

“To say Mrs. Ferguson had a generous heart is an understatement,” says Claudia Keenan, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff. “She was an incredibly giving woman, and I was honored to call her a friend. We are overwhelmingly grateful to her for all she has done for EVMS.”

Robert C. Goodman Jr. was her attorney and a long-time family friend. “Virginia was a very generous person who lived modestly so she could make the most of her resources,” Mr. Goodman says. “She is a wonderful example of the difference one individual can make through saving, caring and giving.”

A Norfolk native and longtime Virginia Beach resident, Mrs. Ferguson gained an appreciation for the special needs of elderly patients while volunteering in the emergency room at Virginia Beach General Hospital during the 1960s and ’70s.

In the mid 1990s, she sought a way to honor the legacies of her father, Edward Keville Glennan, and grandfather, Michael Glennan. The men were scions of the local news industry; Michael Glennan worked for The Virginian — forerunner of The Virginian-Pilot — before buying it in the 1870s, and Keville Glennan was editor of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Dispatch.

After consulting with friends, including then-faculty physicians John Franklin, MD, and Robert Payne, MD, Mrs. Ferguson became convinced that EVMS needed a program that focused on older patients. In 1995, her gift established the Glennan Center.

As Director of the Glennan Center, Robert Palmer, MD, talked with Mrs. Ferguson about her vision for the center.

“She was a wonderful lady with a positive attitude and passion for our seniors,” Dr. Palmer says. “Her philanthropic spirit enabled us to stay at the forefront of elder care. Our accredited geriatric-medicine fellowship and our combined internal medicine-geriatric medicine residency program wouldn’t have been possible without her generosity.”

Mrs. Ferguson was thrilled to see the Glennan Center grow and advance.

“The Glennan Center has been a success,” Mrs. Ferguson said in an interview last fall. “I’m proud of what it’s doing for older people — they’re the ones who touch my heart.”