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$2.5 Million Gift From Woodward Pealer Largest in History of Frostburg State University

$2.5 Million Gift From Woodward Pealer Largest in History of Frostburg State University

The late Woodward D. Pealer, a Cumberland, Md., businessman and longtime supporter of Frostburg State University, has bequeathed more than $2.5 million to the FSU Foundation, the largest gift ever in the University’s history. The bequest will benefit student scholarships and faculty development.

The Woodward and Virginia Pealer Endowed Fund, which Pealer and his wife, Virginia, had established in 1990, funds the Woodward and Virginia Pealer Scholarship. It benefits full-time FSU sophomores, juniors or seniors with financial need, giving preference to non-traditional students. The endowment also supports faculty development at FSU.

“This gift demonstrates the high esteem that Woody Pealer held for Frostburg State University, and is a fitting culmination of his life of service and charity,” said FSU Interim President Thomas L. Bowling. “His extraordinary generosity will support students for generations to come.”

More than 90 Pealer Scholarships have been awarded since its creation. At its inception, the scholarship supported one student per year. The number issued has increased as the endowment has grown. In 2015, six students earned Pealer Scholarships. With the addition of Pealer’s extraordinary estate gift, the scholarship will benefit many more students in future years.

“Mr. Pealer’s legacy will not only assist students directly through scholarships that will help them pay their tuition, but through support for faculty as they increase their knowledge of their specialty and their skills as educators,” said John T. Short, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FSU Foundation.

Woodward Pealer, who had retired from business and as a judge of the Maryland Tax Court, passed away on Jan. 21, 2014, at the age of 92 following a lifetime of service to his city, county, state and country. Virginia Pealer, a businesswoman herself as owner and operator of H.E. Smith Service Station and Grocery in Cumberland, died in 2006. The Pealers moved to Sun City Center, Fla., in the 1980s.

Woodward Pealer flew 55 combat missions in World War II with the 12th Air Force. During the course of his service, he received the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters and a Presidential Unit Citation, as well as an audience with Pope Pius XII.

In his civilian life in Cumberland, Pealer’s leadership roles included past potentate of Ali Ghan Shrine Temple, two-term director of the Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Sacred Heart Hospital and vice president of the Cumberland Lions Club. He was instrumental in organizing the area’s first County United Fund, precursor to the United Way, which he served as president. He also served as director of the Salvation Army and the Central YMCA and as chairman of the Brotherhood Dinner, National Conference of Christians and Jews.

As co-chairman of the Lions Sports Car Races, Pealer successfully promoted the Cumberland area and contributed thousands of dollars to area charities. In addition to his time as a judge of the Maryland Tax Court, he was also a member of the Wage and Hour Committee for the State of Maryland and chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Liquor Control Board of Allegany County.

In July of 1995, FSU dedicated the Performing Arts Center’s Pealer Recital Hall to honor him and his wife. Then-President Catherine Gira described the Pealers as “two individuals with a great vision for Frostburg State University.” The dedication, she said, “will honor the Pealers for their continued commitment in promoting higher education.”

In 2009, in recognition of his lifetime of accomplishments and service, FSU granted Pealer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during its 134th Commencement Ceremony. Listing Pealer’s many achievements, then-President Jonathan Gibralter proclaimed May 16, 2009, “a day of celebration for Woodward D. Pealer on which he received an honorary degree recognizing his many acts of kindness, generosity and leadership. I ask all citizens of this region to join me in celebrating this day.”

Upon receiving his honorary degree, Pealer told the assembly, “It was my dear friends Lewis Ort and J. Glenn Beall, for whom the library and the library archives are named, who first drew my attention to Frostburg State and how I might be able to assist this fine institution. And I have been proud to do so. I urge you young people who are embarking on the next phase of your lives to keep your focus on that which is important to you and live your lives in a way that leaves a positive imprint on your community and your nation.”

For more information about supporting FSU, contact the FSU Foundation at 301-687-4161 or visit

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit or Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.


For further information on this release, contact:

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Frostburg State University
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Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
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