William E. and Miriam S. Blake
William E. “Bill” Blake, Jr., Ph.D., and his wife, Miriam (B.S.’69; M.Ed.’76), made their first gift to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992, establishing the William E. and Miriam S. Blake Fund.
The gift marked Bill’s retirement from 27 years of full-time teaching at VCU, though he continued to teach as a professor emeritus until 2012; it also marked the beginning of a series of gifts in honor of and/or by the longtime educators and VCU supporters. A decade after their first gift, alumni, friends and colleagues established a scholarship in Bill’s name for students interested in Renaissance, Reformation and medieval history and the history of Christianity and in 2006, the William E. and Miriam S. Blake, Jr. Chair in the History of Christianity was endowed by a former student.
In 2012, the couple created the Miriam S. Blake Scholarship in Early and Elementary Education to honor Miriam’s career serving Hanover County, Chesterfield County and city of Richmond schools. It awards a minimum of $1,000 to a student in the School of Education each year. The student must demonstrate leadership qualities, show a strong need for financial assistance and be pursuing a teaching career in early and elementary education.
In 2016, the couple included a $100,000 planned gift to the Make It Real Campaign for VCU in their estate plan to support the funds they have created over the years. (Miriam passed away in 2021.) In 2023, Bill Blake committed more than $1.3 million to his existing planned gift. The planned gift supports initiatives across the Virginia Commonwealth University campus that honor his and Miriam’s commitment to the university.
Blake has also donated to VCU Libraries. Over the past twenty years, he has given hundreds of volumes on the history of Christianity, the field in which he spent much of his career, as well as his collection of more than 300 comic books. Of the comic books that Blake donated to VCU Libraries, his favorites are a number of True Comics, which he began collecting when he was 10 years old.
“I wanted to make sure my collections stayed together and maintained,” Blake says. “I trust VCU Libraries to preserve these works and make sure they are available to more than just a handful of people.”
Blake’s planned gift includes an endowment that will support VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives to help fund the upkeep and display of his and other collections at VCU. With this gift, Blake helps ensure that vital information and fascinating collections are maintained for future generations to discover.
“The library is the heart and soul of a university,” Blake says. “I want to be sure that VCU Libraries has what they need for these collections to be preserved, expanded and disseminated.”