One Egg Every Month

Bob and Gloria Molloy turned the phrase “We drink from wells we did not dig; we are warmed by fires we did not kindle” into the mantra for their lives.

By Ben McDade

When Robert G. “Bob” Molloy of Gadsden, Alabama, was a soldier stationed in England during World War II, the Army augmented Molloy’s rations with one fresh egg a month. However, such scarcity of fresh foods ran much deeper among the civilian population.

To keep military personnel – scattered all over the world – fed as well as possible, the British government imposed on the civilian population of the isolated island nation harsh restrictions on food distribution. An egg a month would have been a luxury for any family. So young Bob Molloy unceremoniously and quietly gave his egg each month to a child in the English family with which he was billeted.

However, during the 30 months he spent in Europe, he thought of someone else, too. Just before the war broke out, the then 19-year-old attended a Methodist Youth Caravan meeting in his hometown. There he spied 15-year-old Gloria Sansom. Bob was a goner. He graduated from high school, went to business college, and got a job in the accounting department at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., but Gloria was never out of his thoughts.

“Bob had this little green Chevrolet,” said Gloria’s sister, Elaine Hardison, recalling how smitten the lad was. “He loved to drive up and down the street where Gloria and I lived with our parents.”

When the war ended, Gloria and Bob married in that north Alabama Methodist Church where they first met.

The couple lived by the philosophy that you’re supposed to share your wealth, no matter how much or how little it is, and do so for good, practical reasons without fanfare. They were “generous and practical givers,” said Brenau University Trustee Jim Moore, a retired Gainesville businessman who got to know the Molloys through church membership. “They were the kind of givers who did not wish to draw attention to themselves. [They] focused on practical gifts that make institutions more robust and communities more vibrant.”

Quietly touching and nurturing communities

“Wherever they lived, Bob and Gloria nurtured generations of their family and their communities through their generosity,” said Hardison, who now resides in Fairhope, Alabama. “They both had this enduring idea of paying it forward.”

And the Molloys spent time in a lot of places.

The Molloy Foundation provided funds to assist with building the anatomy lab and other Doctor of Physical Therapy program facilities.
The Molloy Foundation provided funds to assist with building the anatomy lab and other Doctor of Physical Therapy program facilities.

Bob used his G.I. Bill benefits to enroll at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham, where he earned a degree with top honors in business administration. The couple lived in Massachusetts while Bob earned a graduate degree at Harvard Business School. He subsequently landed a job in 1958 as sales manager at AFCO Industries, based in Alexandria, Louisiana. Over the next 20 years, he and Gloria bounced between several locations in western Louisiana and east Texas as he climbed through the corporate executive ranks. By 1978, he was CEO.

Bob’s leadership, business acumen and exemplary management standards helped the company flourish. He and Gloria shared a visionary outlook in their personal and community lives. During those years, Hardison said, Bob’s work took him across the United States and South America. Gloria worked, too, but also maintained their home. “Even on short notice, she was able to skillfully host Bob and his business associates.”

PT doctoral students from Georgia – Alyson Logan of Dacula, Drew Huggins of Fayetteville and Ryan Ahlenius of Loganville – collaborate in the lab.
PT doctoral students from Georgia – Alyson Logan of Dacula, Drew Huggins of Fayetteville and Ryan Ahlenius of Loganville – collaborate in the lab.

An ‘unsettled’ retirement on the lake?

In the early 1990s, they settled into a comfortable retirement on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia. Settling, however, did not mean idling or staying put. Together Bob and Gloria visited 62 countries, including China, Malaysia, Italy and Turkey. Bob kept up his hobby as a disciplined jogger. Gloria enjoyed reading and loved all aspects of the arts. They became active in First United Methodist Church and many community activities. They got involved with the Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute, or BULLI, a member-driven lifetime learning organization. And, as was their way, they quietly continued their generosity through supporting numerous local institutions.

Bob and Gloria Molloy always showed interest in supporting organizations that serve the community
Bob and Gloria Molloy always showed interest in supporting organizations that serve the community

“When they first visited Gainesville,” Hardison recalled, “they found the people to be friendly, the north Georgia mountains and Lake Lanier enchanting and Brenau University to be a source of personal enrichment. They savored their lives there.”

A few years after the Molloys moved to Gainesville, Alzheimer’s disease began taking its toll on Bob. It slowly sapped him of his memory and vitality, but left his generous and practical nature intact. Almost until his death in 2000 he enjoyed setting the tables when the men’s group at his church gathered for a meal.

Jim Moore recalled that, after Bob died, Gloria continued to be actively and philanthropically involved in church and community. When he was a member of the church fundraising committee, he called on Gloria seeking support for a building program. She told Moore that she believed the program was a good cause, but Bob would have wanted to support something more practical – the kind of unglamorous utilitarian things that others might not support.

“Some folks want to be the donors of the beautiful huge new stained glass window or the majestic sounding and visually awe-inspiring pipe organ,” Moore said. “Bob and Gloria were practical givers, quiet givers. They never wanted to draw attention to themselves.”

Moore gave it some thought. Although it was not in the expansion plan he was raising money for, he told her the church kitchen needed some significant renovation. “Once Gloria heard that, she said that’s where she wanted their gift to go,” he said. “Updating a kitchen was something Bob would be proud to do. And it would not draw attention.”

Practical, generous, quietly supportive

Gainesville lawyer John Smith also remembers Gloria as practical, generous and quietly supportive. When Bob died, Gloria hired Smith to figure out the best way to disburse the Molloy assets after she passed away. He created the Robert G. and Gloria S. Molloy Foundation, which was funded only after Gloria died in 2012. Directed by attorney Smith and sister Elaine Hardison, the foundation supports local organizations that serve the community, including Brenau. The practical, generous, quiet nature of the Molloy philanthropy prevails.

In 2014, for example, a $50,000 gift helped pay to build offices at the Brenau University Downtown Center for the Department of Physical Therapy. A conference room at the facility has the name of The Robert G. and Gloria S. Molloy Foundation at the door in recognition of another gift, this one for $100,000, provided seed money for the creation of the human anatomy lab and established the footprint for Brenau’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

“Both gifts were in keeping with the Molloys spirit and practicality,” Smith said. “Gloria really didn’t want the attention as a donor. I suspect that Bob shared that preference. So, I suppose it is fitting that we recognize them for the gifts of the Robert G. and Gloria S. Molloy Foundation and for their lack of wanting personal attention during their lifetimes.”

“Bob and Gloria offer an exquisite example of how communities, universities and individuals mutually benefit when each is committed to the care and nurturing of the greater good,” said Brenau President Ed Schrader. “Brenau University and the Gainesville community that they found so welcoming are now better places because of Bob and Gloria’s generosity.”

 

Kathye Light, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, uses touch screen computer technology in a classroom just around the corner from her office from which she oversees a doctoral program that is expected to grow to 120 students.
Kathye Light, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, uses touch screen
computer technology in a classroom just around the corner from her office from
which she oversees a doctoral program that is expected to grow to 120 students.

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