Unusual estate auction Feb. 22 to benefit Tennessee Tech students

University campuses are home to many different events, but an estate sale is not usually one of them. It will be Saturday at Tennessee Technological University, though, when the university executes the wish of a very special graduate.

The late Nancy Fry of Nashville, class of 1918, named her alma mater as a beneficiary of her estate. When the 98-year-old retired schoolteacher died in 1994, the university found itself with various financial holdings and many of Fry's belongings. These items include antique furniture, china, crystal and tools. On Saturday, they go on the auction on the main floor of the Jere Whitson Building on the university's campus in Cookeville with proceeds earmarked for student scholarships.

University officials say the unusual event is in keeping with Fry's desire to assist students at the institution where she got her start.

"The Fry Endowment will be perpetual, meaning scholarships funded from interest on its capital definitely will make a difference to generations of students to come," said Tiff Rector, director of Planned and Corporate Giving for the university. Rector estimates that when sale proceeds are added to the amount already received from Fry's financial holdings, a total of almost $100,000 will form the body of the scholarship endowment. All scholarships from it are earmarked for students in Tennessee Tech's School of Nursing.

Auction officials say more than a thousand items will be offered Saturday. One of the prizes is a towering cherry corner cabinet with double doors and glass panes, which is expected to attract competitive bids. Beds, tables, chairs, fabrics, jewelry and sundry other items will also take their turn under the gavel.

Fry, the daughter of Lowrie Lee Fry and Hattie (Sparkman) Fry, was born in 1896 and grew up in Lynnville community of Giles County. Her great grandparents included some of the first settlers in Tennessee, and her roots stretched back to the Alsace region of France. She came to Tennessee Tech in its earliest days, studying high school and junior college teaching and serving as associate editor of domestic arts for the school newspaper, known then as the Tech Dynamo. She graduated three years after the school was established and went on to teach home economics for many years at Antioch High School. She died in mid-1994, and her estate has been in probate until just recently.

Auction items can be previewed from 8 to 10 a.m., Saturday, in the Whitson Building, which is located on the university's main quadrangle. The sale, led by auctioneer Leslie Methvin Sullins of Cumberland Auction Co., begins at 10 a.m. and continues until the last item is sold. Payment is by cash or check with all sales final.