Thomas Franklin Fary
So Thomas Franklin Fary remained a bachelor, but in the end he directed that a huge portion of his estate be devoted to a scholarship fund for rural teen-agers.
Yesterday, Tappahannock lawyer William Lewis announced the creation of Fary's scholarship plan, named the Thomas Peterson and Alvin Jenettie Roane Fary Memorial Scholarship in memory of Fary's parents. Its supporting trust fund is worth $3.4 million.
Lewis is organizing a committee to help choose students for the scholarships. Four scholarships up to $6,000 each will be awarded on a competitive basis in the spring to graduating seniors from the northeastern corner of the state that surrounds Fary's remote King and Queen County .
The scholarships will be awarded based on scholarship, financial need, and participation in school and community service activities. They can be used for tuition, books, enrollment and laboratory fees. Winners will be notified by April 30. The scholarships are automatically renewed if the students keep up their grades.
"To leave it all in this trust is pretty amazing," said Lewis, an estate lawyer who is the scholarship fund's executor.
But Fary's friends said almost anything was in keeping with the man, an often ragged figure in tattered clothes who was so tight that he’d haunt the local country store during deer season at lunch time waiting for hunters to leave behind uneaten saltine crackers.
"When crackers started coming in smaller packages, it nearly killed him," said Carey C. Hall, who spent 49 1/2 years in the King and Queen County Clerk’s Office before retiring as clerk in 1983.
Hall lived near Fary's parents and even bought a couple of tracts of timber with Fary, including one deal more than a half-century ago when Fary secured 20 acres for $100. Before Hall could scrounge up $50 for his half of the deal, Fary came to him and handed him $100 as his share of the sale of the parcel's timber.
"I said take the $50 out of that that I owe you," Hall recalled, "but he said that was already taken care of. He knew how to buy land."
If Fary could cut a deal, he also hated to part with a dollar. The electric company "cut his lights off two or three times because he wouldn't pay the bill," Hall said. "He was tight. When his father and mother died, he cut the pump off [at their house] and he'd go [next door] to the courthouse hydrant and get all the water he needed."
He also scrimped by taking baths in the Mattaponi River , Hall said. "He was a character."
According to Hall and Lewis, Fary lived during the Depression in Washington , where he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Justice Department and the General Accounting Office. At some point, he returned to the King and Queen area and spent many years living in a Tappahannock hotel, they said. He died in 1995 at the age of 92 in a Gloucester County nursing home.
Hall said Fary told him he would never marry unless he could find a rich woman, but he did have a girl friend for a while.
“Fary was very much in love with one lady, and everybody thought they'd get married. But one time, she asked Fary what he loved most in the world — she was thinking he'd say her — and he said that long green dollar bill. That was the last date he had with her."
Students eligible for scholarship consideration must have lived for at least two years in one of these counties, Charles City , Essex , Gloucester , King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster , Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Richmond , Westmoreland and York , or the Stonehouse district only of James City County or the Bruton District only of York County.
By kind permission of Lawrence Latane – Richmond Times-Dispatch – article dated Thursday, January 28, 1999.
©2022 Fary Memorial Scholarship Fund