Larry Herr has never stepped foot on the Liberty University campus, but he's left a large footprint there, nonetheless.
Herr, who passed away on June 17 at age 65, was a loyal friend of the university. His financial support has helped provide many scholarships.
But it's his latest gift to the university - decided just weeks before he died from a rare bone marrow disease - that will help Liberty stay on solid footing for years to come.
Herr left Liberty University $1 million from his living trust.
Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said he was touched by Herr's gift.
"I was sorry to hear of Mr. Herr’s passing on my birthday (June 17) earlier this year but it is heartwarming to see how God has been working in the lives of people all over the country since my father’s death to support Liberty University like never before," he said. " It is further confirmation to us that this is God’s university."
Herr's gift is the fourth-largest single bequest received by Liberty, said Tom Arnold, director of LU's Planned Giving Department.
Above all, it shows Herr's strong commitment to Christian education and is an example of the blessings that can come through a faithful giver to the Lord's work.
“Liberty University will be eternally grateful to this godly couple and their willingness by God's grace to demonstrate the spiritual gift of giving to this Christian University,” said Dr. Earl Sargeant, Associate Director of Planned Giving at LU.
Larry Herr was a retired building contractor and real estate manager in Pennsylvania.
“He had a successful business, and God enabled him to be a success,” said his wife, Nancy Herr.
She said her husband became a Christian at age 55 and, after a mission trip to Romania, felt the need to give from what God had blessed him with.
“Larry was really touched by it [the trip]. We started helping with building of churches there,” she said. “Then we were looking into other areas, Christian charities that we could become a part of and Liberty was one of them. Larry had a heart for young people … in education, young people getting into the ministry.”
A man who loved fishing and NASCAR, Nancy Herr describes her husband as a “very generous person, but very frugal … low-profile. He was very generous in the areas of ministry.” His obituary lists him as “a supporter of overseas missions and a philanthropist of God's work around the world.”
The Herrs' first connection with Liberty University came by watching Dr. Jerry Falwell on TV. At first, the couple gave sizeable monetary gifts to LU's scholarship fund. Then they heard Falwell present the opportunity of investing in the lives of Liberty students through a charitable gift annuity, and they signed on. They soon received a visit from Sargeant, which turned into a close friendship and an ongoing relationship with the university.
Larry Herr continued to put his money into gift annuities with LU, totaling $500,000. The annuities provided tremendous upfront tax deductions and because they were “two-life” annuities, Nancy Herr will receive monthly payments for the rest of her life with a large portion of that payment being tax-free.
The Herrs had planned to travel to Liberty for the first time last October, on their way to their other residence in Florida.
“This was the year we were going to stop at Liberty and see all the things going on there,” she said.
But Larry was diagnosed with M.D.S. in July 2007, became transfusion dependant and was unable to make the trip.
Like many of Liberty's donors, though, Larry Herr, with the help of LU's Planned Giving Department, was able to support Christian education in his life and in his death.
He is home with the Lord now, but the work of the Gospel that he was so much a part of here on earth will continue - in the lives of Liberty University students eager to learn more about God's calling on their lives and to make an impact on the world around them.
For more on Planned Giving to LU, go to www.lugiving.com or call (800) 543-5309.