BETHANY, W.Va. - Bethany College has received a gift in excess of $3.2 million from the late Mary Cutlip Roche, a former librarian at the College and a graduate in the Class of 1935.
Mrs. Roche, a resident of Hunt, Texas, had made plans to transfer the gift to Bethany in December of 2004. On the day of the intended transfer, she fell and passed away two days later. Since provision for the gift had already been made, her husband, Ray J. Roche, set about in the months that followed to transfer the funds to Bethany.
Bethany President G.T. "Buck" Smith quoted a letter received from Mrs. Roche in February of 1998 in which she wrote, "I received much from Bethany when I could afford very little and now finally it is my opportunity to show my appreciation."
The funds will be used to establish a permanent Mary Cutlip Roche Fund, thus adding to Bethany's long-term financial strength. Use of earnings on Fund will be determined by the College president with advice and consent of a four-person committee of the Board of Trustees.
"Mary attended Bethany during the Great Depression and was very frugal," commented President Smith. "She believed strongly that a meaningful life is the result of hard work, personal sacrifice and service to others. Her gift will be used to further these values and opportunities for future generations of Bethany students."
Born in Clarksburg, W.Va. on November 10, 1913, and a life-long member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Mary Cutlip enrolled as a student at Bethany and was employed as a student assistant in the College library.
After graduating from Bethany in 1935, Mary was offered a position as assistant librarian at the College provided that she proceed with a graduate program in Library Science. She subsequently enrolled at the University of North Carolina and completed her graduate work in 1938.
Meantime, her younger brother, Randall, enrolled at Bethany, graduating in 1940. A resident of Corpus Christi, Texas, he too has devoted his life to service and learning, serving for 21 years as President of William Woods College in Fulton, Mo.
After serving as assistant librarian at Bethany, Mary was offered a position as assistant acquisitions librarian at the University of North Carolina. In May of 1942, she began a career with the United States Civil Service. Her first assignment was as librarian of the Naval Air Station in Miami, Fla.
The United States Government recognized Mary's unusual combination of abilities in library science, foreign languages and various sciences. In order to utilize these special talents, she was assigned in 1948 to the Indian Head Naval Powder Factory, a highly classified facility in Maryland. The activities of Indian Head were to develop the science of solid rocket propellants. There she worked with a staff of scientists from around the world.
In 1962, Mary accepted the position as Head of the Reference Branch in the Scientific Library of the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C. In order to carry out the functions of this position, she had a staff of translators to cover all of the main languages of the world. While at the Patent Office, Mary met and married Ray Roche, a patent examiner.
Commenting further on the generosity of Mrs. Roche, President Smith said, "So far as I know, Mary's gift is the second largest gift in Bethany's 165 year history. The largest was the estate provision of approximately $10 million received in 1998 from the late Forrest H. Kirkpatrick, Bethany graduate in the Class of 1927 and long-time Dean of Students at Bethany. Another was the $1.4 million gift in 1988 from former campus gardener, Larry Hummel."
"How remarkable it is that a former librarian, dean and gardener at the College should be the ones who provide most generously for future generations of students and faculty," Smith said.
Permanent recognition of Mrs. Roche's generosity to Bethany will be made in Phillips Memorial Library. Meantime, a memorial tree has been planted near the entrance to Cramblet Hall, the former Carnegie Library where she worked, with a marker inscribed as follows: "Bethany College gratefully remembers Mary Cutlip Roche '35 who remembered Bethany gratefully."