Legacy of Giving

November 2, 2021 0 comments

A Snapshot of the Immeasurable Impact of
Judge Richard Bray and the Beazley Foundation

In June, after 19 years as the president and CEO of the Beazley Foundation, Inc., Judge Richard S. Bray stepped down from the Portsmouth-based charitable organization that has touched the lives of millions in Hampton Roads since its founding in 1948.

Throughout his tenure, Judge Bray, a Portsmouth native who served on the Virginia Court of Appeals, embodied the spirit of a servant-leader as he oversaw the distribution of grants to vital organizations in support of young people, education, housing, healthcare, and recreation.

The Beazley Foundation was created by the late Fred W. Beazley, a Portsmouth native and a larger-than-life character who began his illustrious career selling coal and oil door-to-door. His hard work paid off, and he earned a fortune, only to lose it during the Great Depression. Undeterred, Beazley started over in Atlanta, where he rebuilt his wealth. He then returned to his hometown to focus on philanthropy directed to the community’s needs at large. Today, the privately endowed foundation manages $60 million in assets.

Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, founder, chancellor & CEO of Regent University, enjoyed a special relationship with Beazley, who was a close friend of his father.

In the early 1960s, as Dr. Robertson worked to get his broadcast ministry off the ground, Beazley provided him with a $100-week stipend and allowed his family to live in a house on the campus of what was then Frederick College. This location was later bequeathed to the state and became the Portsmouth Campus of Tidewater Community College.

“Judge Bray has been a dear friend of Regent over the years. He has taken charge of the foundation set up by my good friend and benefactor Fred Beazley and has carried the Beazley Foundation onto new heights,” Dr. Robertson said. “I wish the best for Judge Bray in the years to come and that he will have a rewarding and blessed retirement.”

Over the past 15 years, the Beazley Foundation and Judge Bray have bestowed grants to Regent University that have had an immediate and lasting impact. Two notable examples are the IBM Cognos Data Analytics System that enabled university operations to run more efficiently and the construction of our much-needed Chapel and Divinity School.

Shaw Chapel is a centerpiece of campus life and a place of worship, celebration and community. It transformed the Regent campus, helping to create an even more vibrant academic and Christ-centered atmosphere.

“The generosity of the Beazley Foundation helped make it possible for our students to study and worship together in beautiful, state-of-the-art buildings. Each of the students assisted will, in turn, minister to countless people as they proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Corné J. Bekker, D. Litt. et Phil., dean of the School of Divinity.

The Beazley Foundation, under Judge Bray’s leadership, has provided more than $680,000 in grants that, in addition to making a physical imprint on the university, have improved the curriculum and offered life-changing scholarships to students.

The Beazley Foundation, under Judge Bray’s leadership, has provided more than $680,000 in grants that, in addition to making a physical imprint on the university, have improved the curriculum and offered life-changing scholarships to students.

The Beazley Foundation’s American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) grant enabled the university to strengthen its General Education curriculum, specifically in literature and economics. It also provided the funding to hire more world-class faculty members. Now Regent is one of only 23 universities nationally to hold the esteemed “A” rating by ACTA for its comprehensive liberal arts curriculum.

Josh McMullen, Ph.D., dean, College of Arts & Science, said the university is profoundly grateful for the educational bedrock provided by the grant. “Our General Education curriculum draws from the rich tradition of Western Civilization and America’s founding principles while engaging and training students to meet the needs and challenges of an increasingly globalized world. The Beazley Foundation and Judge Richard Bray were instrumental in this achievement.”

The foundation also supports prestigious scholarships such as the Lawrence W. I’Anson Endowed Scholarship, which was created in honor of its late Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Judge Bray’s predecessor and mentor, and a Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Jeffrey A. Brauch, professor and executive director of the Center for Global Justice, also holds a deep respect for Judge Bray and his commitment to educating young people.

“Whenever I was privileged to spend time with Judge Bray, I was struck by his love for this community. He cares deeply about preserving Hampton Roads’ heritage, but he is even more passionate about seeing it flourish in the future. And he loves young people and is committed to education,” Brauch said. “I am so thankful for the Beazley Foundation’s investment in Regent law students through the Lawrence W. l’Anson Endowed Scholarship. I am confident that students blessed by this scholarship will seek justice and provide principled leadership for Hampton Roads for many years to come.”

In 2019, Regent Law Dean Mark Martin shared his vision of establishing the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law: to protect rights secured in the Constitution and restore enumerated rights that have been eroded over time.

The Regent University Robertson Hall houses the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law.

The Beazley Foundation, at the recommendation of Judge Bray, decided to partner with Regent in this important new venture which became a reality in 2020. Located in Regent’s Robertson Hall, the center pairs advocacy and scholarship to advance first principles in constitutional law.

“My friend, Judge Richard Bray, has been a key mentor to me since I arrived at Regent Law School. I will never forget his amazing contributions to the formation of the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law,” Dean Martin said. “Not only did his funding recommendation to the Beazley Foundation Board result in one of our largest financial contributions, but he became a steady source of creative ideas and recommendations that allowed the Center to flourish even amid the pandemic.”

Judge Bray passed the baton to Steve Best, a Chesapeake City councilman, and former Chesapeake fire chief. Best received a master’s degree in business administration from Regent in 1994 and his Juris Doctor from Regent’s School of Law in 2008.

As a new chapter begins, Christopher Lambert, vice president for Advancement, reflected on the long-standing partnership between Regent and the Beazley Foundation: “We are grateful to be among a select group of organizations chosen to receive and steward investments of the Beazley Foundation. Thank you for placing your trust in Regent and for sharing our passion for equipping the next generation of Christian leaders to change the world.”

To learn how you can support Regent University’s mission to transform the world through Christian leadership, visit regent.edu/support.

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