Planned Giving

Cleo Cox’s Estate Gift to Support Her Endowed Scholarship in Perpetuity

Cleo Cox
Cleo Cox

Cleo Cox was a meticulous planner who dedicated her life to learning and helping students. To her, few things were more important than education, and this shaped how she approached her life and her legacy.

Born into a large family of modest means, Cox saw education as vital. After earning a college degree during the Depression, she spent nearly four decades as a teacher, educating students in Upper East Tennessee.

She also educated herself on financial and estate planning. She worked hard … and she saved hard. “Cleo watched the markets, monitored her assets, and, most importantly, asked questions,” says her longtime advisor. Working with her attorney, accountant, and financial advisor, Cox constantly sought information. She was not intimidated by the process, and she was not afraid to ask questions.

Cleo and husband Bruce were also successful Angus breeders, producing the award-winning Rito Rito and Mr. T. With Bruce busy with the cattle operation, Cleo kept the books.

When Bruce passed, Cleo wanted to create a tribute to him. Although childless themselves, the Coxes loved children. Cleo created a scholarship endowment in their names in the Herbert College’s Animal Science Department. Remembering how difficult it was to finance her own education, Cleo provided that the primary consideration should be financial need.

Since 2002, approximately 110 scholarship awards totaling $125,000 have been made to 70 students. “She often told me how much she appreciated hearing from the students who received the scholarship,” says Lisa Ford, Director of Strategic Engagement and Research at UTIA. “It let her see the impact of her giving.”

She knew she was making a difference, and she wanted to do more. When it came time to plan her estate, she worked with her advisors to leave the bulk of her estate to enhance the scholarship she created. Cleo Cox helped students during her life and left a legacy at her death, ensuring her impact will continue in perpetuity.


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