TCC unveils statue of college pioneer

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

A statue of the philanthropist whose 1968 donation of an existing college in then Nansemond County to the commonwealth was the foundation of the institution of higher education was unveiled Thursday on the Portsmouth campus of Tidewater Community College.

The statue of the late Fred W. Beazley was unveiled before a gathering of college and community leaders, as well as alumni of Frederick College, the short-lived institution he established on the banks of the Nansemond in 1961.

College and community leaders unveil a statue of the late Fred W. Beazley at Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth campus Thursday. Beazley, whose donation of a college in North Suffolk, then Nansemond County, was the foundation of TCC, made his money primarily with ice factories after starting out as a door-to-door coal vendor on the streets of Portsmouth at age 15.

TCC president Edna Baehre-Kolovani, who transferred to the college from Napa Valley Community College just this past summer, said the unveiling was one of her first formal duties at TCC.

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“Half a century ago, Mr. Beazley had a vision,” Baehre-Kolovani told guests. “Mr. Beazley was a self-made millionaire … who recognized the value of higher education.”

One of the main reasons Beazley established his namesake college, which was preceded by a military school for boys, was due to his self-awareness of his own lack of education, said Judge Richard Bray, president and CEO of the Beazley Foundation.

Beazley began on his stellar career as a businessman on leaving school at age 15, Bray said. “(He) borrowed $15 to buy a horse-drawn cart and sold coal in Portsmouth door-to-door,” he said, adding that the young entrepreneur went on to establish 50 ice plants.

“It was a dream that Mr. Beazley had to educate as many young people as he possibly could, to give them the opportunity that he didn’t have,” Bray said.

“He made a great fortune … and traveled in some circles with the railroad magnates … but he was very conscious that he had little education, and he felt a shortcoming.”

Bray said that Beazley, after some pondering, would have approved of the statue in his honor.

“Having known him as a little boy, I can tell you his first thought would be, ‘It cost too much,’” Bray said. “But after that he would be heartened and pleased and satisfied with what has been done.”

Jerry Gavin represented Frederick College alumni, describing the process of realizing the Beazley statue. “There’s a lot of people” that helped make it a reality, he said.

“I’m really proud and excited to be here and be part of this,” he added. “We were afraid that once we were gone, Frederick College would be put off and not remembered. We would have been happy to have something out there (at the original college site in modern-day Harbour View).”

Jay Hall Carpenter created the statue. His other clients have include the U.S. Department of State, Smithsonian Institute, United States Military Academy at West Point and England’s Canterbury Cathedral.

The old Frederick College site, which became TCC’s Portsmouth Campus, is being redeveloped, along with an adjoining parcel owned by the city of Suffolk, into a multi-million-dollar mixed-use community.

The new campus including the Beazley statue is off Portsmouth’s Victory Boulevard.