Marilyn Godbold’s impactful gift started in an unlikely place – at a meeting she attended as a guest.
Marilyn’s affinity for Clemson began thanks to her husband, Asa, who graduated from Clemson in 1969 with a degree in building construction. Asa was eventually named to the Board of Visitors, and since spouses are routinely invited to the meetings, Marilyn attended every meeting with him. Though she had no prior connection to Clemson, she quickly fell in love with Clemson and what the university has to offer.
“Marilyn had never even set foot on campus until after we met,” Asa reminisced. “She bought into everything Clemson and almost made me feel guilty over whether I was as involved as she was.”
At the final Board of Visitors meeting, Marilyn sat in a breakout session for spouses during which Beth Clements gave a presentation about the ClemsonLIFE program and its goal of providing a postsecondary education to students with intellectual disabilities. On the way home, Marilyn immediately decided to change her will to make ClemsonLIFE a part of it, and she did just that.
“If a thought was headed for her mind, it went through her heart first,” Asa said. “ClemsonLIFE resonated with everything she was as a person, and she wanted to make this program available to anyone who needed it.”
“We have learned that the ClemsonLIFE program really supports lifelong learning, abiding friendships, and meaningful vocation, and those were all things that Marilyn enjoyed during her lifetime,” added Emily Reinicker, one of the couple’s two daughters and a Clemson biosystems engineering graduate. “She was excited to see a program that extended that to others.”
The ClemsonLIFE Program at Clemson University provides a coordinated course of study that includes career exploration and preparation along with self-awareness, discovery, and personal improvement through a framework of courses, job internships, and community participation. The program has over 500 student volunteers from other parts of campus, and ClemsonLIFE graduates have an 84% employment rate, which is twice the national average for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Aside from her generosity to Clemson, Marilyn was well acquainted with giving back in other areas of her life as well. She worked as the Director of Volunteer Services at McLeod Health in Florence, SC, for 30 years, and after her retirement, she continued to give her time both to McLeod and to the Florence County Museum. Though the Clemson family grieves along with the Godbolds over Marilyn’s passing in late 2017, Marilyn’s legacy lives on in the students she will impact. Her planned gift to ClemsonLIFE will provide grants and financial aid to students who may need assistance to attend.
“I have now given to Clemson for 49 consecutive years, and in one fell swoop, Marilyn gave more than I have ever given cumulatively,” Asa shared honestly. “I am hoping that between the two of us, we will keep Thomas Green Clemson’s will and vision alive forever.”
Thanks to Marilyn’s generosity, Asa was inspired to continue giving himself, specifically through creating the Asa and Marilyn Godbold Clemson FIRST Grant-in-Aid, a scholarship for first-generation students. Because of Asa’s early influence, Marilyn’s eager enthusiasm, and Asa’s continued loyalty, the Godbold family is well on their way to keeping Thomas Green Clemson’s legacy alive – and creating one of their own.
To join the Godbold family in supporting Clemson today, tomorrow and forever, visit clemson.edu/giving.