Planned Giving

Polly Dodson’s Charitable Remainder Trust Will Create Scholarships for Herbert College of Agriculture

Photo of Polly Dodson.
Polly Dodson

Polly Prosser Dodson ’59 is known for her “can-do” attitude and entrepreneurial spirit. When it came time to plan her estate more than twenty years ago, Mrs. Dodson knew that she wanted to use some of her assets to give back.

“I was able to use some of my stock and real estate holdings to fund a charitable remainder trust,” she shares. With the trust, Mrs. Dodson received an income-tax charitable deduction for property she contributed and also receives income from the trust for life. At her death, the funds remaining in the trust will be distributed to UTIA to fund scholarships for students at the Herbert College of Agriculture.

This “can do” attitude and entrepreneurial spirit have defined her since childhood. “I was the ninth of 11 children,” she says. “I grew up in the Depression—and realized early on that if I were going to get an education, I would have to finance it myself.”

Dodson grew up in Moore County, Tennessee, near her grandparents’ farm.

“My family had lost our farm following the stock market crash of 1929, so we moved near my grandparents,” she recalls. “When World War II started, my father went to Oak Ridge to work. By the time the war ended, he had been diagnosed with cancer. I knew that I would have to make it on my own if I wanted to go to college.”

Following high school graduation, she worked for two years for the telephone company in order to save enough money to attend college. “I came to the University of Tennessee because it was the only place I could go and continue working,” she says. She paid her way through UT by working nights at the phone company.

“I majored in home economics and learned a lot about managing a home and business by living in the Home Management House with other home economics students,” she relates. That experience served her well.

Mrs. Dodson taught home economics in Giles County for several years and then served as a guidance counselor while raising her young family. During this time, she was able to assist a number of students in gaining admission to college and financing their educations. “I felt like I was doing important work,” she says.

As her children grew and her circumstances changed, though, she felt like she needed to try other things. “I saw that I could use what I learned at UT to start my own business,” she says. Mrs. Dodson started purchasing and re-selling sterling silver flatware and antiques as well as purchasing and renovating older homes. “I love the craftsmanship of antiques, and it was a natural career progression for me to turn this into a full-time job.” She also began purchasing car washes and commercial properties.

This success enabled her to create the charitable remainder trust, which is paying her income for life and will benefit UTIA at her death. The decision to support UTIA was easy, she says.

“My husband, K.C. Dodson, dedicated his life to agriculture through his work with Farm Bureau. I attribute a lot of my success as an educator and as a businesswoman to the lessons I learned at UT. It made perfect sense to give back to the Herbert College of Agriculture to help others pursue an education and hopefully benefit in the same way I have.”

Even today, Mrs. Dodson continues to monitor her trust in a manner that is beneficial to UTIA. “She will often call me to let me know she made decisions that will positively impact the funds she has designated to UTIA,” says Dr. Keith Barber, Vice Chancellor. “She is a wonderful person with a big heart.”

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