Sale of land in North Kingstown
means grand slam for URI
KINGSTON, R.I. -- November 9, 2000 -- Two brothers, both loyal University of Rhode Island alumni and URI baseball Hall of Famers, have hit another home run for the University.
In 1989, the brothers, H. David of Warwick and Harry "Hike" Hedison of Naples, Fla. and Warwick, established two charitable 20-year trusts through the URI Foundation, giving the University one-third interest in a parcel of land in North Kingstown.
The Hedisons recently sold that land, located on Routes 102 and 2 to a developer for $3.8 million. (The developer then sold the land to Home Depot USA.) The sale means the combined trusts are now worth approximately $800,000. The URI Foundation will receive the assets at the termination of the trusts in 2009, and URI will benefit from the investments of the funds.
The Hedisons signed a memorandum of understanding last month, earmarking $300,000 of those funds for an endowment fund to benefit URI's Convocation Center and the remainder to establish the Hedison Family Endowed Scholarship. The specific value of the scholarship endowment will be determined when the Trusts terminate.
"We are extremely grateful for this tremendous support from Dave and Hike," said Robert Beagle, vice president of University Advancement at URI. "They are very good friends of URI and they continually work to help make it a great University. This gift is a permanent legacy which will benefit students in particular and the campus community in general."
URI's Convocation Center is designed to host basketball games and other athletic contests, in addition to major university celebrations, such as commencement and convocation ceremonies, alumni programs, concerts and major cultural events that will benefit the campus and surrounding communities.
The Center will be in full operation by the time the Trust funds become available. Annual earnings from the endowment will support and enhance the grounds surrounding the Center as well as ongoing building maintenance.
The southwest concourse of the Convocation Center, which leads to a number of key athletic offices, will reflect the brothers' support and indicate that the gift was made in memory of their father, Harry D. Hedison Sr.
Annual earnings from the scholarship fund will support students in the colleges of business administration and engineering with preference given to students from Rhode Island.
The scholarship is also given in memory of the Hedisons' father who came to this country from Armenia when he was 15. His first wife died when Hike was 3 and David was 1 1/2. His second wife died when Hike turned 10.
"Without his strength, we wouldn't have an education," said David. "It was difficult times. When my brother volunteered to leave school so that I could start, my father wouldn't hear of it. He insisted we both get an education."
It was indeed a difficult time when Hike, who earned his nickname playing football, entered college in 1938 and David in 1940. The depression was slowly ending. Their father's jewelry business, Hedison Manufacturing Company, had slowed to a crawl.
When asked why they give so much to the University, David responded that without help from Rhode Island State College (the former name of URI), he wouldn't have been able to stay in school. Help came in the form of legendary coach Frank Keaney who helped David get a job working in the cafeteria which paid for his meals and brought his tuition bill down to $180 each semester.
"Giving is a way of thanking God for my good fortune combined with hard work," says Hike who notes that Jack Buckley, now retired from the URI development team, suggested the trusts. "I thought it was a good idea. Besides, I get pleasure out of giving."
World War II interrupted the Hedisons' promising baseball careers. David, a "murderous hitter," was team captain for the Rams, received the Lou Gehrig Trophy, and was named outstanding player in the Providence Amateur Baseball League. He was offered a try-out with the St. Louis Cardinals. Hike, a three-year letterman and star catcher for Frank Keaney's baseball team, was co-captain of the baseball team. He, too, was offered a try-out with the Cardinals.
Hike, after graduating with an electrical engineering degree worked for Grumman Aircraft throughout the war. He was also a catcher on the Grumman Yankee's Fast Pitch Softball Team. David, after graduating with a business degree, joined the Army and was shipped to France. A twist of fate saved him from riding on a ship that was torpedoed and sunk.
After the war, the brothers turned their efforts to the family jewelry business. Over the next four decades, they expanded the $100,000 business with 15 employees into a multimillion-dollar company with more than 500 employees.
The brothers have since closed Hedison Manufacturing and opened another business, D&H (David and Hike) Associates, LLC, a land investment and development company.
Throughout the years, the Hedisons have been generous with their time, talent, and treasure. Both have volunteered countless hours, made annual contributions, and donated gifts for Christmas parties. Once, Hike, an avid sports fisherman, donated his 42-foot, twin diesel engine cruiser to the University so that it could be used for research, diving, and social outings.
Each brother led fundraising efforts for his 50th class reunion. As president of the Class of '42 reunion committee, Hike raised more than $600,000. Not to be outdone, his brother, David, helped the Class of '43 raised even more.
For Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116