Agnes Scott College Alumna and Husband Leave a Multi-Million Dollar Estate Gift to Alma Mater

Decatur, GA, July 7, 2020—Sara Emma “Emy” Blair ’52 and H. Duane Blair have left an estate gift in excess of $8,000,000 to Agnes Scott College. The gift was scheduled to be disbursed upon Emy’s death in November 2017.

Originally from Stone Mountain, Emy said she did not choose Agnes Scott; it was chosen for her. Her mother and grandmother went to Agnes Scott. Emy’s mother required her to attend Agnes Scott her first year, then allowed her to transfer. Emy’s boyfriend Duane (they married in 1952 and were together for 63 years until Duane’s death in August 2015) was a student at Emory. Emy ultimately decided to remain at Agnes Scott, graduating in 1952, with a degree in mathematics.  

Following graduation, Dr. Frierson, a chemistry professor, helped Emy get a job as a research assistant at Seydell-Wooley. This job allowed her to support Duane in medical school. The Blairs lived in Beaufort, S.C., while Duane served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. During this time, Emy enjoyed the role of a Navy wife. When they returned to Atlanta in 1961, Duane practiced medicine and Emy worked as his office manager for 50 years. In her retirement, Emy enjoyed taking senior university classes at Emory, her cats and dogs, cooking, ice cream, good wine, sewing and reading mysteries. Emy’s father was public health commissioner of DeKalb County for 25 years. He, along with Scott Candler and James Ross McCain, were instrumental in founding DeKalb Medical Center where Emy’s husband Duane later worked as a surgeon.    

The Blairs designated their legacy gift to Agnes Scott for facilities improvement and scholarships. Their gifts support the recent renovations of J. Bulow Campbell Hall from Agnes Scott’s science building into an innovative living-learning community and historic Rebekah Scott Hall, originally built in 1905 and now LEED platinum-certified, and the ongoing $31.8 million renovation of Agnes Scott Hall, the college’s first campus building. In addition, Agnes Scott is pleased to create The Emy and Duane Blair Science Scholarship Fund, which will provide scholarships for students of the sciences beginning in fall 2020. 

The Blairs supported many programs and initiatives at Agnes Scott during their lifetimes, including faculty innovation, multiple scholarship funds and the renovation of the Scott-Sams House, a historic home built by Agnes Scott’s family and the current residence of Agnes Scott’s President Leocadia I. Zak.

The Blairs were also long-time supporters of Oxford College at Emory University. Duane Blair’s legacy gift to Oxford at Emory established the H. Duane Blair Scholarship, which has awarded scholarships with a preference for students studying science, since 2015. 

“The Blairs’ estate gift is extraordinary and will impact generations of students for years to come,” said Agnes Scott President Leocadia I. Zak. “Agnes Scott’s residential traditions and our commitment to excellence and opportunity for women in STEM are greatly enhanced by their generous bequest. The Blairs were lifelong supporters of Agnes Scott and we are tremendously grateful for their consideration of Agnes Scott’s future.” 

Family members include two alumnae nieces, Kim Fortenberry Siegelson ’84 and Karen Fortenberry Beavor ’86.