Office of Public Affairs
Feb. 14, 2003
CONTACT: Kevin Mahaney, 312-5558
'MIGHTY FINE FELLOW' LEAVES OVER $2 MILLION TO SUNY OSWEGO
OSWEGO -- The largest gift in SUNY Oswego's history -- $2,226,376.88 -- is coming to the college from the trust of Charles L. Wiley, who graduated from the college in 1922 when it was known as the Oswego State Normal and Training School.
Wiley died in 1981 in Virginia, and his only recorded contact with the college between his graduation and his death was a $10 donation in 1977, according to Kevin Mahaney, vice president for development and public affairs. "He clearly had a great love for the college to remember us so magnanimously in his will," Mahaney said.
Wiley's gift is about $1 million more than Oswego's previous largest gift and among the biggest to any four-year college in SUNY, where most campuses have yet to exceed six figures for a single gift.
Wiley studied industrial arts (now known as technology) at Oswego and, according to the trust officer, was a business executive with General Cable Corp. before serving in the U.S. Navy, from which he retired with the rank of captain.
"While those of us who are at SUNY Oswego today did not know Charles Wiley, he obviously knew and cared deeply for his alma mater," said President Deborah F. Stanley. "The magnitude of this gift is unprecedented for us, and it is all the more astounding in that it came to us out of the blue. We will endeavor to repay Mr. Wiley's extraordinary and unassuming generosity by assuring that his unrestricted gift is used to maximum effect for our college and our students."
Wiley's estate established an annuity trust that paid income to his wife, Nettie Wiley, who died in late 2002 at the age of 103. Wiley designated 40 percent of the principal and income of the trust to come to SUNY Oswego through the Oswego Alumni Association after the death of his wife. The remaining 60 percent will be distributed to two churches and the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
"Mr. Wiley recognized the important role that the alumni association plays in supporting the college," said Lori Kiewe, president of the Oswego Alumni Association. "Thanks to his generosity, the alumni association has the opportunity to work with the college to put this gift to work to benefit students and address the priorities of the institution."
Jean H. Light, vice president and trust officer with Chesapeake Trust Co. in Virginia, said Wiley was born in 1901 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Wiley at the Downes homestead in the town of Scriba.
As a student at Oswego, Wiley was a member of the first football team coached by the legendary Max Ziel, for whom the gymnasium in SUNY Oswego's Laker Hall is named. His class yearbook describes him as "a mighty fine fellow" who was active in the Athletic Association, Industrial Teachers Club, Class Social Committee and Vocational Club.
Light said the Wileys had lived in Virginia for many years and had no children. She said that the couple met while attending classes together at Columbia University and that Nettie Wiley had taught school in New York state.
The largest previous gift to SUNY Oswego came last summer from the estate of Girgis Ghobrial, an emeritus professor. He designated his gift of more than $1 million for scholarships.
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