funds scholarship with land gifts
Elizabeth City's Russell
Twiford has spent the better part of his 75 years serving the people
of his northeastern North Carolina home as a civil law attorney. Now
retired from his practice, Twiford is giving a piece of the land he
loves to support Carolina undergraduates from his part of the state.
Twiford is bequeathing a seven-bedroom Hatteras Island rental home
currently valued at $800,000 to the University to benefit a need-based
scholarship fund at Carolina bearing his name. Proceeds from the future
sale of the property, named Lowerlights in reference to an old Baptist
hymn, will add to the Russell E. Twiford Scholarship Fund for deserving
students from the First Judicial District where he practiced law for
nearly 50 years.
It is Twiford's third gift of property since 1996 when he established
the fund with a gift of other land on Hatteras Island.
"I have lived here and practiced law here for a long time, and
I've met many, many good people," he said. "With this scholarship
fund, I am trying to help by sharing some of what I have been fortunate
enough to accumulate."
Beyond accumulating close ties to the people of the Elizabeth City
area, Twiford has accumulated extensive holdings in real estate. He
owned and operated the Nags Header and Carolinian hotels in addition
to several homes and tracts of land. One of his major interests has
been the protection of fragile maritime forests, and he has donated
land to various parks and preserves. He has also given land to area
recreation centers and schools.
In 1943 at age 17, Twiford entered Carolina as a freshman, but he
enlisted in the U.S. Navy soon after and served three and a half years
in World War II. Returning to Chapel Hill after the war, he earned
a degree in political science and received a Certificate of Naval
Science and Engineering in 1949. He went on to law school at Wake
Twiford said he benefited personally from a scholarship when he attended
school on the G.I. Bill. "I may have been able to scrape together
enough to go to school, but as it was, the scholarship was instrumental
in providing the opportunity," he said.
After law school, Twiford returned to Elizabeth City and offered his
services to any law firm for $250 a month. "They told me there
wasn't room for another attorney in town," he said. "So
I gathered my law books, borrowed some old attic furniture, bought
a $19 linoleum rug and hung out a shingle."
Twiford has enjoyed success as an attorney ever since. "Elizabeth
City is my briar patch," he said. "I am so glad to be able
to give back to the students from this community. And Carolina gave
me so much, so I needed to give something back."
- Kyle York '94