Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 14
Endowment honors alumna's efforts for those with disabilities

     In tribute to Mary Custis Straughn's efforts on behalf of
individuals with disabilities, a memorial endowment in her name was
established in 1991 at the University of Delaware by friends and
family, including her sister, the late Dr. Jane Crane Straughn,
Delaware '53, and her mother, Henrietta Crane Straughn.
     The Mary Custis Straughn Endowment for Disabled Students honors
the 1955 graduate who developed multiple sclerosis at age 38, yet
continued her work as teacher, horticulturist, organist, sculptor and
     After the initial memorial gifts were made, her mother and sister
decided to enlarge this endowment through their own estate plans.
Following the death of Jane Straughn in November 1993, her mother
elected to legally disclaim a portion of her inheritance from her
physician daughter, allowing it to pass directly to the endowment.
     The income from the $1.4 million Mary Custis Straughn Endowment
for Disabled Students soon will be used to assist University students
with disabilities and help them reach their educational goals through
scholarships, fellowships, specialized equipment and services or
through whatever future technological advances become available. A
large-screen Macintosh Quadra computer for the visually impaired,
which is located in the Assistive Technology Center of the Hugh M.
Morris Library, already has been partially funded by this endowment.
     Even after she was partially confined to a wheelchair, Mary
Custis Straughn, known as "Custie," was committed to improving
conditions and opportunities for those with disabilities. One of her
most significant accomplishments was her work for the Americans with
Disabilities Act, the first comprehensive civil rights legislation on
behalf of the disabled. In recognition of her efforts to promote its
passage, Mary Custis Straughn was invited by President George Bush to
attend the signing ceremony at the White House.
     The Other Side of the Mountain, a painting by Mary Custis
Straughn donated by her sister, is currently displayed in the Goodstay
Center at the Wilmington campus of the University.
     For more information on the advantages of planned gifts, call
Paula M. Tilmon, Esq., Director of Trusts and Estates, at (302) 831-
2104, or write to her in care of University Development, University of
Delaware, Newark, DE 19716.