A local foundation that made a college education possible for hundreds of Southwest Virginia students now has a library conference room named in its honor at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
Norton businessman F.B. Kline formed the Kline Foundation in 1952. Kline, who operated a Coca Cola bottling plant in Norton and a Lonesome Pine Bottling plant in Vansant, created the foundation to support scientific, educational, religious and charitable activities.
George Culbertson, a member of the Kline Foundation Board of Trustees, said UVa-Wise and the Kline Foundation always had a close alliance. The Kline Foundation was formed two years before the College, then known as Clinch Valley College, opened its doors in 1954. Culbertson said it was not unusual for Kline Foundation treasurer George Scott to show up in then Chancellor Joseph Smiddy’s office at the beginning of a new term to learn that students were in need of financial help.
“The semester would open and there would always be some students who didn’t have the money,” he said. “Mr. Kline would write the check.”
Kline passed away in 1970 and left shares of stock that allowed the foundation to continue the work he started.
“It’s now 47 years later and we are still using those funds,” Culbertson said.
Culbertson explained that the foundation worked to support education during that time and noticed recently that money invested in an educational endowment drew better interest than the foundation did on its own. The board decided to fully move toward putting its money in endowments at UVa-Wise and Mountain Empire Community College. It is one of the last acts the foundation will do as it concludes its six decades of work.
“Today, we will write the last check,” Culbertson said as he presented the $29,000 check to Chancellor Donna P. Henry.
Henry said the Kline Foundation has supported higher education in the region for many years.
“To this day, the Kline Foundation has supported hundreds of students from Wise, Lee, Dickenson and Buchanan counties and the city of Norton to achieve their goal of earning a UVa-Wise diploma,” Henry said. “We appreciate the Kline Foundation’s longtime support of the College and our students, and even though the foundation has completed its primary work, its support will continue to benefit students through the endowed Kline Foundation Scholarship in perpetuity.”
Henry led Culbertson and other trustees Glenn Teasley, Charles Lawson, Fred Ramey, Byron Cantrell and Stewart Spradlin to the conference room that now bears the Kline Foundation name. Trustee Harold Armsey was unable to attend the dedication. The room is located on the third floor of the new six-story library.
The foundation has held meetings in various conference rooms on campus for many years. After the dedication Wednesday, June 21, the board held a meeting, the first held there after the room is now officially known as the Kline Foundation Conference Room.