Today@Sam Article

Philanthropy Today: Preserving a Family Legacy

April 5, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti


Anyone who spends time on campus, knows the name, Estill. In fact, the old Estill Library building still stands and is home to many student services. The Estill family’s connection to the university can be traced back to the establishment of the Sam Houston Normal Institute in 1879. Charles Estill taught at Austin College in Huntsville as a professor of language and later at SHNI.

His son, Harry Estill, Sr. graduated as valedictorian of the SHNI’s first senior class in 1880. He would also become the longest serving president in the university’s history, 1908 to 1937. His daughter, Mary Sexton Estill, was a long-time professor of English.

Robert Estill, nephew of President Harry Estill, earned his MBA in 1966 from SHSU. As a CPA, he served a 46-year career with the Internal Revenue Service as an examiner in the large case program. He is grateful for the years spent at Sam Houston and recalls his time on campus among the most memorable and important years of his life. He believes a graduate degree enhances ones ability to excel in the workforce.

To emphasize the importance of a graduate education, Robert established scholarship endowments for graduate students to honor his cousin, Mary Sexton Estill; his mother, Mary Louise Embry Estill; and his father, Junius Fishburne Estill, Jr. 

His gift was created by giving stock. When you gift stock directly to a charity, you do not have to pay income taxes on the appreciated gain in the stock.  

“Sam Houston played a formative role in my life and through these endowments the memory of the Estill heritage will be carried forward in perpetuity,” he said.

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