A Grad Remembers His Schools
Fryeburg Academy and Bowdoin College have received the largest bequests in their histories from the estates of Bion R. Cram, an alumnus of both schools, and his partner of 59 years, John H. McCoy.
The $15 million gift to Fryeburg Academy, one of the oldest private schools in the U.S., is thought to be the largest ever to a secondary school in Maine. Cram was a former Fryeburg Academy scholarship student. The restricted gift is specifically designated to establish endowments for financial aid scholarships and for academic resources including the operation of the academy’s Bion R. Cram Library.
Cram's gifts to Bowdoin total more than $13.5 million and include the establishment of both the Bion Cram Chair in Economics and the Cram Scholarship Fund. McCoy, has given Bowdoin additional gifts of nearly $3.8 million through his estate — all for scholarship endowment.
Cram came to Fryeburg as a boarding student from the family farm in 1929. He graduated in 1933, receiving the Gibson Medal and Scholarship Award, the academy’s highest honor. He went on to attend Bowdoin on scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1937.
“My uncle was a very frugal man who believed that money was meant to have a purpose, and he felt that education was a very worthy purpose," said Mary Lowatchie, Cram’s niece. "He always said that it was his opportunity to attend Fryeburg that first gave him the tools to become a success in life.”
A retired stockbroker, Cram made gifts in excess of $3.5 million to the academy during his lifetime. In 2002, he contributed $500,000 toward the construction of a state-of-the-art library. When fire destroyed the school’s gymnasium in 2005, Cram contributed $3 million toward the effort to rebuild it. In 2007, he dedicated the academy’s new athletic arena to honor his sister, Ada Cram Wadsworth, a former academy teacher.
Cram, with residences in Kennebunk, Maine and Indialantic, Fla., passed away at the age of 93 on December 21, 2008, nineteen days after the death of McCoy.