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Virginia S. Nelson (1900-1992)

Contributor to Rollins College

Virginia S. Nelson had lived in Winter Park since 1940. Her Husband Willis Wickliffe Nelson made a fortune off of working in the oil industry and investing in valuable real estate. She served as a Trustee of the Winter Park Library from 1943 to 1946, and in 1964 donated $10,000 to Rollins College. Both of her daughters, June and Virginia graduated from Rollins.[1] She was an avid supporter of the music program at Rollins College and fulfilled many requests for funds on new equipment. Upon her death in 1992, Virginia S. Nelson donated ten million dollars to Rollins College from her estate, which at that time was the largest single donation in the history of the College.[2]

Virginia Nelson loved animals and raised prize winning Dachshunds. She was also a member of the National Camellia Society as well as the Winter Park Women’s Club. She loved flowers and plants and became a valued member of the Winter Park Garden Club. Notable among her contributions to the College is the Rose Garden on campus next to the Warren Administration Building. President Rita Bornstein and Ginger Nelson Spears unveil the dedication plaque for the Nelson Rose Garden in 1994. It reads: "Virginia S. Nelson Rose Garden: In tribute to her thoughtful generosity, this rose garden is dedicated to Virginia S. Nelson (1899 - 1992) by the students, faculty, staff, and trustees of Rollins College. Virginia and her husband W.W. Nelson, moved to Winter Park in 1940. Their daughters, June '49, and Virginia '55, were graduated from Rollins. Mrs. Nelson's gift benefits many areas of the College. She was well known in the community for her love of children, music, art, dogs, camellias, and roses. 1994"  

- David Irvin

[1] Donor File: Virginia S. Nelson, 05 E, Rollins College Archives.  

[2] ibid

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