Maine Secondary School Receives Nearly $15 Million from Former Scholarship Student

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Fryeburg Academy in Maine announced it received a bequest of $15 million from a former scholarship student, Bion Cram, class of 1933. The restricted gift is the largest in the Academy’s history and is thought to be the largest ever to a secondary school in Maine. It was specifically designated by Cram to establish endowments for financial aid scholarships and academic resources. Cram’s entire residual estate was divided equally between the Academy and Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Mary Lowatchie, Cram’s niece, said, “My uncle was a very frugal man who believed that money was meant to have a purpose, and he felt that education was a very worthy purpose.”

Fryeburg Academy, a Maine town academy and one of the oldest private schools in the U.S., has received a restricted gift approaching $15 million from the estate of Bion R. Cram, class of 1933, a former Fryeburg Academy scholarship student, and his partner, John H. McCoy. This gift is thought to be the largest ever to a secondary school in Maine.

A celebration was held on campus Friday to honor the memory of Cram and his remarkable devotion to the Academy. More than 200 donors, students, alumni, faculty and staff, trustees, and members of Cram’s family participated in the memorial service.

Mary Lowatchie, Cram’s niece, said, “My uncle was a very frugal man who believed that money was meant to have a purpose, and he felt that education was a very worthy purpose. He always said that it was his opportunity to attend Fryeburg that first gave him the tools to become a success in life.”

The restricted gift, the largest in the Academy’s history, was specifically designated by Cram to establish endowments for financial aid scholarships and for academic resources including the operation of the Academy’s Bion R. Cram Library. Cram’s entire residual estate was divided equally between the Academy and Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Dan Lee, Fryeburg Academy’s Headmaster, said, “A Fryeburg Academy scholarship opened the doors of opportunity for Bion, and he never forgot that. His strong belief in giving back enables us to continue to provide quality education to families – particularly Maine families – that would not be attainable to them otherwise. We are very grateful to Bion for his extraordinary commitment to the Academy.”

Cram, a retired stockbroker, made gifts in excess of $3.5 million to the Academy during his lifetime. In 2002, he contributed $500,000 toward the construction of a state-of-the-art library. When fire destroyed the school’s gymnasium in 2005, Cram contributed $3 million toward the effort to rebuild it. In 2007, he dedicated the Academy’s new athletic arena to honor his sister, Ada Cram Wadsworth, a former Academy teacher.

Tim Scott, director of development at Fryeburg Academy, said, “Bion’s tremendous generosity has been transformational for Fryeburg Academy. In life, he played a significant role in enhancing our historic campus and its educational capabilities. Bion’s bequest ensures that the high quality Fryeburg Academy experience can be made available to the broadest spectrum of students in perpetuity.”

Cram, with residences in Kennebunk, Maine and Indialantic, Fla., passed away at the age of 93 on December 21, 2008. His partner of 59 years, John A. McCoy, predeceased him by 19 days. Cram came to Fryeburg Academy as a boarding student from the family farm in 1929. He graduated in 1933, receiving the Gibson Medal and Scholarship Award, the Academy’s highest Honor. He went on to attend Bowdoin College on scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1937.

Graduating in the midst of the Great Depression, he was the first of his college classmates to secure a job. Thanks to a recommendation from prominent businessman and financier Harvey Dow Gibson, also a Fryeburg Academy (class of 1898) and Bowdoin alumnus, Cram earned a coveted entry-level position at the Manufacturer’s Trust Company in New York City, where Gibson was President. Cram ultimately entered the world of investment banking, enjoying a highly successful career that spanned more than three decades until his retirement in 1982.

Founded in 1792 with statesman Daniel Webster serving as one of its early Headmasters, Fryeburg Academy is one of the nation’s longest-operating schools. This independent secondary school, one of Maine’s 10 town academies, educates more than 500 students from western Maine and eastern New Hampshire as well as 135 boarding students from 21 countries and ten states.For more information, go to http://www.fryeburgacademy.org.

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