After spending time with Frances Wilson Massey '51, one realizes three things: her love for education, her passion for textiles and her desire to give back.
Frances Massey grew up in rural Sampson County on a farm with her six siblings. Along with three of her sisters, Frances graduated from East Carolina University. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in home economics and science in 1951, Frances began her career by teaching home economics in Bailey, North Carolina. Frances then moved to Raleigh to teach home economics at Millbrook High School.
After spending 11 years in the classroom, Frances earned a master's degree from UNC-Greensboro while working at Blue Bell Apparel Company in Greensboro through an assistantship. Her late husband, George, worked in farm machinery sales, and through his connections at NC State University, he learned of a job opening in the School of Textiles.
In 1963, Frances became the first female instructor in the School of Textiles, which at the time was a male-dominated field. Through, Frances was able to combine her love for education with her passion for textiles. Frances taught labs specializing in fiber microscopy, the freshman-level introduction to textiles, as well as beginning fabric formation systems and labs associated with the course. She also developed and taught a course on end use of textiles. Few students earned textile degrees without passing through one of her labs. A true pioneer in the industry, Frances taught at NC State for 30 years.
"ECU prepared me well for my career in education," Frances says. She specifically credits her teaching style to her favorite chemistry professor at ECU, Mr. Derrick. "He taught his class while using a hands-on approach. He made it come to life."
She was also very fond of her clothing professor, Mrs. Gault. "She helped me explore my passion for textiles," Frances says. As a token of gratitude for the significant role ECU played in her life, Frances established a pre-tax commercial annuity beneficiary designation and a charitable remainder trust that will support the Wilson Family Scholarship. "I was born during the Depression, so I've always worked hard and been careful with money. I really thought it through. I established a planned gift where I can leave a legacy but it also provides financial benefits for me now," Frances says.
By documenting her planned gift, Frances has become a member of the Leo W. Jenkins Society. This legacy society honors those who have included the ECU Foundation Inc., the ECU Medical amp; Health Sciences Foundation Inc., the ECU Educational Foundation Inc. (Pirate Club) or the ECU Alumni Association in their estate plans.
Leo Jenkins once said, "To the alumni, I am grateful for the common bond we share, which nurtures our cause. You have shown love for your alma mater, and you have strengthened its existence through support and through the understanding contributions you are making to North Carolina and to the nation. You provide the measurement of how successful this institution has been, and you brought us distinction."
East Carolina University is truly thankful for Frances Massey and all of those who are philanthropic benefactors of the university. For more information pertaining to establishing a planned gift or becoming a member of the Leo W. Jenkins Society, please contact the Office of University Advancement.
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