Summer 2000
Vol. 17 No. 2
Publication Number:
USPS 244-800


FAQ: Samford

Heading to Graduate School with a Fistful of Scholarship Dollars

Viewpoints: Berry and Flynt

Unclaimed Bargains

Miss Alabama 2000

Campus News
Samford, WMU Name Vaughn Director of Christian Women's Leadership Center

Determined Nurse Bell Keeps Clinic Open, Studies Business Side with Stanley Scholarship

Leadership for a Changing World: Rice Suggests Formula for Success

Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing Received CCNE Accreditation for Bachelor's, Master's Programs

'Burst of New Energy upon the Sciences'

Major Gift to Athletics

Bulldogs Plan to Exercise Option Again in 2000

Men's Team Captures First TAAC Track Title

News Briefs
Bill Mathews Named VP as Laverne Farmer Retires

Interior Design Gets FIDER Accreditation

Translation Prompts Scholarship Fund

Other Stories
Bobby Bowden Day
Faculty Accolades
Class Notes
In Memoriam


Summer 2000

Combined Love for Samford and Sports Leads to Record Gift for Athletics Department

Gene Bluemly has been close to Samford for four decades.

Talk with Eugene W. (Gene) Bluemly, Jr., a few minutes and you quickly learn one thing: Samford University is special to him. For several good reasons.

Gene grew up in Homewood and always had a good impression of Samford, but he started to college at a state university. After a while, he transferred to Samford, which he respected for its "very high scholastic standing." He found a real difference.

"At Samford, you're more than a number to your professors," says Bluemly.

Gene played football at Samford under legendary coach, Bobby Bowden. He met his wife-to-be, Nancy Arnold, during Samford student days. Over the years, he developed a great friendship with his father-in-law, longtime Samford photographer Lew Arnold. This helped him remain close to the school.

Bluemly studied industrial management at Samford and began his career in manufacturing. After several years, he changed course and joined Equitable Insurance Company. It was a good move for him and the company, for Bluemly went on to become Equitable's top national agent through his own agency, Bluemly and Associates, in Birmingham.

He has continued his association with Samford over the years and is a charter member of the school's Planned Giving Advisory Board.

On May 2, during a convocation honoring Coach Bowden, Samford President Thomas E. Corts announced that Bluemly had made the largest gift to athletics in the University's history. The gift-for $500,000-will be used to restore the Samford track and add much needed weight-training and other facilities for athletics.

Bluemly said he didn't know his gift was a record. When asked about his motivation, he said simply, "It was the right thing to do."

The Homewood native has loved sports for as long as he can remember. He has especially fond memories of Coach Bowden.

"He was a down-to-earth, God-fearing man you could talk with like everyone else," Bluemly recalled. He remembered with a chuckle that Bowden allowed no "cussing." Players who forgot the rule had to run laps around the field.

"Bowden, too," said Bluemly. "When he did, he would just take off and run. No one had to tell him."

During college days, Bluemly also worked for a transportation company, which limited his time for social functions, particularly dating. But that didn't stop him from driving his 18- wheeler into Vestavia to pick up Nancy, who would ride with him on his deliveries. The truck had no passenger seat, so Gene took Coca-Cola crates for her to sit on.

Bluemly has encountered health problems during recent years and is now confined largely to his home. His beloved wife, Nancy, died in 1997 after a long illness, and their only child, Susan, is disabled and a resident of Rainbow Omega Home.

And yet, Bluemly remains "an inspiration," said Corts.

"He has been enormously successful in business and has an indomitable spirit that has surmounted a lot of difficulties. His generous gifts will be a blessing to students, faculty and friends for years to come."

Samford Athletics Director Bob Roller said Bluemly's generosity will have a direct impact on every student-athlete and coach on campus.

"Not only will we have a first-class 400-meter track, but this gift will allow us to expand our weight training facility and add much-needed office and meeting space," said Roller. "Gene has a sincere desire to help others, and he has proven that with this gift."

Richard Duke L'73, Bluemly's tax attorney who also serves on the Planned Giving Advisory Board, worked with Bluemly and Samford Director of Gift and Estate Planning Stan Davis on technical aspects of the gift.

"Gene was a good football player himself, and sports in general is one of his interests," said Duke. "He wanted to combine his love of Samford and his love for sports in the gift."

Davis also praised Bluemly for the gift.

"Gene has every right to be withdrawn and bitter," said Davis, "but he's not. His outlook on life is an inspiration."

What has enabled Bluemly to remain so positive in the face of adversity?

"Faith in the good Lord," he says. "Otherwise, you might as well hang it up."