12/04/07 — A quiet impact: Doctor’s legacy is the thought he put into students’ futures

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A quiet impact: Doctor’s legacy is the thought he put into students’ futures

Dr. Ralph Bland’s family and friends say he would not have wanted anyone to make a big fuss about the gift he left Wake Forest University.

It was his way, they say. He helped others without fanfare or acknowledgement — the way it is supposed to be done.

But the gift that Dr. Bland left will impact lives for generations — not just because of what his $7 million can build, but because of what the dreams he will make come true will foster.

Dr. Bland wanted students who had the grades and the drive to go to medical or law school to have the chance to do so — no matter what their financial circumstance.

So, rather than living a wildly extravagant life himself, he decided to bequeath his money to the college.

There will be some fanfare. There always is when a university gets a big donation. And the Bland family should proudly accept the accolades. This is a generous and thoughtful gift.

But those who will benefit from Dr. Bland’s generosity have the greatest responsibility for maintaining his legacy — and will be the ones who can best pay forward the kindness he bestowed on them.

Those who attend medical or law school because of Dr. Bland should spread the wealth themselves, serving where they are needed and giving back when they can without hoopla or flashbulbs.

To pass on that spirit of unselfish generosity is the least they can do for a man who made sure they would have a chance to make their dreams come true.

Let’s hope Dr. Bland’s gift will inspire young doctors and lawyers for years to come. That is probably the only thanks he would ever have wanted.

Published in Editorials on December 4, 2007 10:59 AM