Charlotte attorney leaves $140 million to Queens, Wingate and Wake Forest

Charlotte attorney leaves $140 million to Queens, Wingate and Wake Forest

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte attorney Porter Byrum has left a bequest of more than $140 million to Queens University of Charlotte, Wingate University and Wake Forest for scholarships.

The late businessman and philanthropist was a champion of higher education, and his gift – the largest by any individual to each of the three institutions – is intended to further his legacy of creating opportunity for deserving students, officials said.

Byrum died in March at the age of 96. Over his lifetime, he left more than $235 million to the three institutions, officials said.

The money has helped more than 1,000 students who couldn't have afforded a full college education, according to a statement from the three universities. Some of the scholarship recipients have gone on to be doctors, business owners and law partners.

In 2011, he donated the Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte to the three schools.

Byrum's alma mater, Wake Forest, will receive more than $70 million, approximately half of his bequest. The rest of the money will be divided equally between Queens and Wingate, at $35 million each.

"Mr. Byrum never let his financial success change who he was – a selfless man who believed in a simple life dedicated to hard work and loyalty to those around him," Queens President Pamela Davies said in a statement. "He also believed strongly in the potential of young people, and he dedicated much of his time and resources to ensure their success."

Byrum's legacy at the three institutions will continue in perpetuity through the numerous scholarships that bear his name, officials said.

Queens renamed South Residence Hall the Porter B. Byrum Hall in honor of his generosity in 2015. He also received an honorary doctorate in 2012.