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.