A Family Legacy of Giving
| Travis and Susan Bedsole
As bankruptcy administrator for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Alabama, Travis M. Bedsole Jr. sees the devastating effect on families of poor decisions and bad investments. So when he talks about the value of investing in the lives of University of Mobile students, it is with the experience of one who knows a good thing when he sees it.
"There are problems in our society, and we have the opportunity with the next generation to remedy that. We can change society by affording young people an opportunity to better themselves and to better society. To have an opportunity to study in a faith-based institution gives you a leg up on the rest of society," Bedsole said.
To accomplish that, Bedsole and his wife, Susan, established the Travis M. Jr. and Susan D. Bedsole Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Mobile. In doing so, they are part of a legacy of giving that began with Travis' great-uncle, J.L. Bedsole, and continued with Travis' father, T. Massey Bedsole Sr.
"It is very rewarding to follow in the footsteps of my great-uncle and my Dad. At the same time, it is daunting. I think to have that legacy is a real responsibility, and I don't take it lightly," Travis Bedsole said.
The Bedsole family legacy is intertwined with the life of the University of Mobile. In fact, the family's involvement is pivotal to the growth and development of the school.
| J.L. Bedsole
"Mr. J.L.," as he was known, was the first chairman of the school's Board of Trustees, as well as the first to receive an honorary doctorate. A member of the 1959 steering committee charged with raising funds to establish Mobile College, Mr. J.L. was also one of the school's most influential benefactors. J.L. Bedsole Library, dedicated in 1971, is a physical reminder of his generosity.
His interests and influence in the community and throughout the region were broad. A businessman and director of First National Bank of Mobile for over 50 years, Joseph Linyer Bedsole served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard College, now Samford University; organized the first Mobile Community Chest, which later evolved into the United Way of Southwest Alabama; and was chairman of the campaign to raise the original $2 million to build Mobile Infirmary at its present site.
His lifelong emphasis on education and economic development led to the formation of The J.L. Bedsole Foundation in 1949, which was fully funded after his death in 1975 at age 94. Today, his great-nephew Travis Bedsole is a trustee of the Foundation, which awards grants to organizations throughout southwest Alabama and provides scholarships through the J.L. Bedsole Scholars Program for students with leadership potential who demonstrate financial need, many of whom are University of Mobile students.
"During his life (J.L. Bedsole) demonstrated strong and devoted Christian commitment through successful business ventures, outstanding community leadership, love and service to his church, concern for his fellow man, and a desire to leave the world better than he found it," said a resolution passed by the Mobile College Board of Trustees in 1975.
Mr. J.L. and his wife, Phala Bradford Bedsole, had one son, Joseph Linyer Bedsole Jr., who was killed in action over Germany in 1944. Their lives are honored through two endowed scholarships: the Joseph Linyer Bedsole Jr. Endowed Scholarship provides financial aid to students majoring in business, and the Phala Bradford Bedsole Memorial Scholarship for Nursing supports students in that field.
| T. Massey Bedsole
Mr. J.L. took a keen interest in his nieces and nephews, one of whom was T. Massey Bedsole, a Mobile attorney and World War II veteran. Massey Bedsole served as a trustee of the University of Mobile from 1969 until his death in 2011 at age 93.
Like his uncle, Massey Bedsole was a leader in the community. He was a partner in the law firm of Hand, Arendall, Bedsole, Greaves and Johnston and was president of the Mobile County Bar Association. He served as a chairman of the UMobile Board of Trustees and a Life Trustee, as well as an original trustee of the Julius T. Wright School for Girls in Mobile and a trustee of the University of Alabama.
Massey and his wife, Martha, established the T. Massey and Martha J. Bedsole endowed Scholarship and continued to contribute to it. Their scholarship is designated to help high achieving students of outstanding Christian character who have ACT scores of 30 or better and grade point averages of 3.5 or above.
Today, Travis Bedsole continues the legacy with his deep interest in the University of Mobile, its mission and its students. Like his father and great-uncle, he is a philanthropist and leader in the community, giving his resources, time and energy.
But, he says, the time for his generation to make a difference is coming to a close.
"Susan and I feel at our age it is time to do something for the next generation. If we can do something to help a student go to the University of Mobile that wouldn't otherwise be able to attend, it warms our hearts," he said.
Bedsole said getting to know students who are recipients of his family's endowed scholarships is rewarding. He recalled one young lady who came to the school as a shy person who did not have many advantages in life.
"I watched her mature over those years into a young lady ready to go out in society and earn her own way. I could see the caring, the war arm put around that student by faculty and staff," he said.
He is impressed with the faith-based education that the University of Mobile provides. Last spring he addressed business students in Ram Hall during Financial Literacy Month, giving them an insider's view of personal financial management from a perspective of Christian stewardship.
That idea of Christian stewardship, so woven into the fabric of the Bedsole family legacy, is at the heart of Travis' and Susan's support of students at the University of Mobile.
"We try to make a difference," Travis Bedsole said. "We're blessed to be able to do that."