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The Blue & Gray Press | August 23, 2019

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Arrington Estate Served Lawsuit

In an effort to collect funds promised to the University of Mary Washington by the late Arabelle Arrington before her death, the UMW Foundation has filed a $6.35 million lawsuit against her estate.

In a statement released by the Foundation, Chairman Kathleen Mehfoud said, “The UMW Foundation elected to file suit against the Executor of her estate in order to preserve its rights, confident that Mrs. Arrington would want her well known and publicly announced commitments to her alma mater to be honored after her death.”

Arrington graduated from Mary Washington College in 1941, served on the Mary Washington Board of Visitors, the Mary Washington Foundation Board of Directors and ultimately served as Chairman of the Board of the Foundation.

UMW remembers her legacy though positions named in her honor, as well as Arrington Hall.

Between 2000 and 2005, Arrington pledged $6.35 million to the Foundation, but died at the age of 89 in 2010 before she could fulfill the commitment.

According to the lawsuit, Arrington directed that funds from the endowment should go toward the building the Jepson Alumni Executive Center; forming the Arrington endowed chair of poetry, currently held by Claudia Emerson; sustaining the university’s advancement office; creating the Arrington Distinguished Professor of Comparative Medieval Literature for Chair of the English, Linguistics, and Communication department Teresa Kennedy; creating a competitive compensation package for the university’s Vice President of University Development; endowing a Summer Science Institute; and creating the Arrington Scholarship, among other allocations.

According to the UMW Foundation statement, “Mrs. Arrington expressly stated that her unfulfilled pledges and commitments she was passionate about were to be satisfied from her estate.”

The lawsuit states that the estate’s executor is the late Arrington’s nephew W. Boyd Laws Jr.

Laws owns the 490-acre Alwington Farm in Warrenton, Va., according to the lawsuit.

The UMW Foundation states in the lawsuit that all or part of that farm be sold to satisfy the pledges that Arrington made to UMW.

Laws, a 66-year-old retired auto mechanic, was not able to be reached at the time of publication, but said in an interview with the Fauquier Times-Democrat, “I’m pretty upset about it…It was a shock to me.”

Laws was quoted in the Fauquier Times-Democrat article saying that his aunt already donated millions of dollars to the university. For that reason, he believed it wouldn’t expect to receive the money after her death.

However, UMW Foundation attorney Gary Nuckols denied that her previous donations were not in the millions, as previously reported in The Free Lance-Star. The UMW Foundation also reputed this claim in the statement.

Nuckols declined further comment to the press, as did the UMW Foundation.


  1. Laura

    I think it’s a bit cruel of UMW to do this. Pledges normally are void if a person dies and it was not stated in their will. UMW just needs to get over it. Life is not fair. Leave the nephew alone. I cannot believe they would go after the money so soon after he just lost his aunt.

  2. Name Required

    She’s been dead for two years. With all due respect, I’m sure this man did not have some great love for his aunt – more like her money. Warrenton is full of greedy weatlhs and I would be glad to see some of it shared on the UNi.

  3. Not Surprised

    I am not surprised at the foundation suing the dead, especially since Kathleen Mehfoud is involved. If she has no problem taking legal action and criminal action against poor, black families with special needs; she definitely has no problem suing dead people.

  4. Jennifer Landry

    Actually, all of the Laws children did have a great love for their aunt and have done their best to honor her name. They were attentive to her when she lived and since she had no children of her own, they were her surrogate kids. If she had thought that Boyd wasn’t totally capable of handling her financial matters, she never would have named him executor. To be given that job, the deceased doesn’t exactly flip a coin! Your comment is thoughtless and uninformed.