Porter Byrum


An attorney who graduated from Wake Forest University surpassed his own highest donation to the university, with a second donation of about $70 million to the school.

Charlotte attorney Porter Byrum graduated from Wake Forest University in 1942 with his undergraduate and Juris Doctor degrees. The new gift was announced Monday, more than six months after he died.

In 2011, he donated about $40 million to the university.

On Monday, the school announced he donated an additional $70 million to Wake Forest University upon his death. Byrum died on March 27 at age 96. Coupled with other donations throughout the years, he’s given a total of $120 million to the university, said Katie Neal, executive director of communications.

“He was the son of a Baptist minister,” Neal said. “At the time, ministers’ kids got to go to school for free and he never forgot that.”

In addition to Wake Forest University, Byrum also donated a combined $70 million to Queens University of Charlotte and Wingate University, which is being split equally among the two schools.

Wake Forest announced the financial commitment for the donation Monday because the audited financial statements will be published from the three universities later this month, Neal said.

Wake Forest University received its first donation from Byrum in 2011, when the Park Road Shopping Center he owned in Charlotte was donated to Wake Forest, Queens and Wingate universities. At the time it was the largest donation Wake Forest had received, Neal said.

“He was great at spotting opportunity,” she said. “He wanted to pay it forward, and boy has he.”

The second-largest donors in the school’s history are alumni Bob McCreary and Ben Sutton, who each donated $15 million in 2016. Both of those donations are being used for athletics.

Byrum’s donations, however, are being used for scholarships. More than 350 students have received scholarships from his donations.

The Byrum scholarships are awarded based on need and merit, Neal said.

She said the university is still sorting out the criteria for the scholarships for the new donation.

Byrum practiced law for more than 60 years but never charged an hourly fee. Instead he billed his clients for the help he provided.

He was also a World War II veteran and helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp.

He served as a member of Wake Forest University’s Law Board of Visitors, received the law school’s highest honor, the Carroll Weathers Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award.

The university’s admissions building was named Porter B. Byrum Welcome Center in his honor.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

snewell@wsjournal.com 336-727-4068 @snewell_WSJ on Twitter

Recommended for you

Load comments