The Greenville Symphony Association has received a $1 million bequest from the estate of the late Mr. and Mrs. Wilson C. Wearn of Atlanta.
Wilson Wearn was the president and CEO of Multimedia Inc., which once owned The Greenville News.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wearn’s bequest to the Greenville Symphony Association is a testament to their love of live, symphonic music, and we are incredibly grateful for their benevolence,” said Greenville Symphony Association board president Bob Nachman in statement to the media.
“Their generous gift ensures the Greenville Symphony Orchestra will not only continue to play, but will continue to grow and thrive for future generations.”
The Wearns, who lived in Greenville from 1953 until 2004, were active in civic, religious, arts and cultural institutions in Greenville.
Wilson C. Wearn, who was born in Newberry, was a graduate of Clemson University and served as an officer in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II.
He moved to Greenville to assist a group of local businessmen start a new television station called WFBC (now WYFF) and helped build a national media company in Greenville when WFBC merged with The Greenville News-Piedmont in 1968 to create Multimedia, Inc.
He served as president of Multimedia Inc. from 1966-1977, its CEO from 1978-1981, its chairman of the board from 1981-1989, and chairman emeritus from 1989-1995.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wearn were great supporters of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and they understood the positive impact live orchestral music can make on the human spirit,” said Greenville Symphony executive director Sherwood A. Mobley in a statement to the media.
“We are very honored that Mr. and Mrs. Wearn chose the Greenville Symphony Orchestra as the beneficiary of their extraordinary bequest,” Mobley said. “Their legacy will live on in the performances of our musicians, the enjoyment of our patrons, and the enrichment of our community.”
He served on various boards in Greenville and served as president of the Greenville Symphony Association from 1977-1978. Wearn died in May 2007.
Mildred Wearn was born in Alligator, Mississippi and grew up in Arlington, Texas before moving to Washington, D.C. where she met Wilson Wearn. According to the Wearns’ daughter, Joan Gilbert, Mildren Wearn, affectionately known as “Millie” by her friends, was always by her husband’s side as a supportive partner in all of his civic involvements. She died Dec. 15, 2014.
The Wearns were great supporters of the performing arts and had a special affinity for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
During a time when the orchestra was experiencing a financial shortfall, Wearn was credited with saving the orchestra by not only making a significant personal contribution, but also by soliciting personal friends and supporters.
“Without the continued support of Mr. and Mrs. Wearn throughout the years, the Greenville Symphony would not be the accomplished, highly professional orchestra it is today,” Nachman said.