NCCU alum honors her late husband with a $500,000 donation to their alma mater

When Isaiah Tidwell was dating his future wife at what would later become North Carolina Central University in the mid-1960s, he reached into his pocket one day and pulled out his “last thin dime,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

With that dime, he bought Hellena Huntley all he could afford — a double-stick popsicle.

“They split it and shared it,” according to the AJC, which announced Tidwell’s death in August 2019.

Decades later, framed popsicle sticks would adorn the couple’s Atlanta home, according to the article.

On Thursday, Hellena Tidwell honored her late husband by making a $500,000 donation in his name to their alma mater, where Isaiah Tidwell once served as a trustee.

It was “the largest single contribution to date toward naming opportunities for the university’s new School of Business building,” the Durham university said in a statement announcing the donation, which was made jointly with the Tidwell’s sons, William DeVane Tidwell and Damion Lamar Tidwell.

The money will help fund the school’s first named academic program — the Isaiah Tidwell Accounting Program.

A Charlotte native, Isaiah Tidwell graduated from North Carolina Central in 1967 with a degree in commerce. He later earned an MBA from the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University.

He joined Wachovia Bank in 1971 after a brief stint at Celanese Fibers Co., eventually rising to become a senior executive and director of wealth management for Wachovia in Georgia. He retired from the bank in 2004 after 32 years.

In announcing the donation, Hellena Tidwell said her husband attributed his career success to his time at North Carolina Central.

“Our family honors his memory with this gift which we hope will strengthen the School of Business as it strives to become a stellar program that provides opportunities for students seeking careers in business,” she said in a statement.

Tidwell’s donation will fund a new curriculum, faculty resources and scholarships, the university said.

The 76,000-square-foot business school is scheduled for completion this fall.

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