Portrait of Generosity: Mary Lib Spillers Hamilton ’57
Among those alumnae who personify loyalty, allegiance and devotion to Converse College, Mary Lib Spillers Hamilton ’57 always comes to mind.
Mary Lib gave her first financial gift to Converse in 1958, less than one year after she graduated. “It was very little – only $10. It was all I could afford at the time, but I knew I had to do it.”
“It was very little – only $10. It was all I could afford at the time, but I knew I had to do it.”
Since that gesture 58 years ago, she has never missed a year of giving back to Converse. When asked if she could remember what inspired her to contribute so early on, Mary Lib named another notable alumna. “Mae Kilgo (who was Converse’s Alumnae Director from 1949 to 1967). I loved her so and she always stressed the importance of giving back to our alma mater – both through your time and your resources. So I did.”
A few years later, Ms. Kilgo invited Mary Lib to speak to the class of 1964 (then in their senior year at Converse) about the importance of giving back to Converse. Mary Lib still remembers walking from Ms. Kilgo’s office in Wilson Hall down to the newly constructed Montgomery Student Activities Center to make that speech. She also recalls the conversation she had during that walk with Ms. Kilgo.
“Ms. Kilgo, one day I’m going to have a gold tower” (an honor bestowed upon donors who give consistently at a certain level for several years). Mae responded, “That’s all we want Mary Lib – for you to want it. If you want it, then one day you’ll have it.”
It wasn’t until Mary Lib’s first Reunion that she increased the amount of her yearly contribution to Converse – from $10 to $25 – which at the time was a very big financial jump for her. Eventually she increased her annual donation from $25 to $100, and stayed at that giving level for decades. When asked why she gave the same amount for so long, Mary Lib simply replied “Nobody ever asked me to give more. I could have – I just thought that if they weren’t asking for more money then they must not need it.” It wasn’t until she came to work at Converse in the 1990’s that she decided to increase her amount of giving to the Leadership Level ($1000 – $1889 annually). “It was when I began my job at Converse that I realized how important it was to encourage folks to strive to increase the amount they gave. And I knew that if I was going to ask other people to do it then I’d better do it, too!”
Over the years, Mary Lib increased her gifts to the College even more, and she earned that prized gold tower, a pendant she now wears with pride at every Converse function she attends. Much like Mae Kilgo, Mary Lib Hamilton has inspired many other Converse alumnae (myself included) to do the same.
Little did she know that almost 30 years after she took that walk across campus with Mae Kilgo in 1964, that office in Wilson Hall would become her own. She took over the position of Alumnae Director in the late 1990’s and carried on Ms. Kilgo’s legacy by encouraging so many other alumnae and friends of the college to give of their time and resources, just as Mae had encouraged her.
In honor of the College’s 125th Anniversary, and the devotion demonstrated by so many loyal donors like Mary Lib Hamilton, Converse is excited to launch a new giving circle – The Purple and Gold Society – in recognition of the almost 1000 individuals who have made a gift of any dollar amount to the institution for 3 consecutive years or more.