New Art Gallery named for Coastal friend and benefactor - Coastal Carolina University
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New Art Gallery named for Coastal friend and benefactor

Rebecca Randall Bryan bequeathed more than $1.8 million to Coastal.

ABOVE: The way the story appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Coastal Magazine

New Art Gallery named for Coastal friend and benefactor

Rebecca Randall Bryan never married and she had no children, but in a sense she had a favorite child: Coastal Carolina University. Bryan, who died Sept. 25, 1999, bequeathed more than $1.8 million to Coastal, the largest single cash gift the university has ever received. In her will, Bryan directed that her gift be used for building projects relating to Coastal’s humanities programs. The art gallery in the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts Building, which had its grand opening on Sept. 20, is named in Bryan’s honor. A future extension of Coastal’s library also will be named in honor of the Bryan family.


“It is clear that Coastal is her heir,” says Sara Sanders, professor of English at Coastal and a cousin of Bryan’s. “She left the university 50 percent of her estate; the next highest percentage was 5 percent. I think it’s significant that Cousin Rebecca’s will was dated August 1993, just after Coastal became an independent public institution.”


Bryan was passionate about the arts, particularly painting and literature, and she was often on campus taking continuing education courses and attending cultural events. She traveled to Oxford University in England as part of a traveling study program offered through Coastal’s Office of International Programs. She also donated more than 200 books from her personal library to Coastal’s Kimbel Library.


“She was curious about everything, so it was no wonder that she has an amazing, interdisciplinary library,” says Sanders. “It held all the classics, as you would expect, but she also kept up with the best current fiction writers like Salmon Rushdie and she read widely in world religion and philosophy, science and art.” She was an avid landscape and still life painter and among her personal papers she left 400 manuscript pages of a novel that she, unbeknownst to her friends and family, was working on.


Bryan was descended from old Horry families and was proud of her heritage. She was a charter member of the Horry County Historical Society and bequeathed her home in Conway to the organization.


“Cousin Rebecca was a serious steward of her family’s name and holdings,” says Sanders, who had Sunday dinner with Bryan nearly every week. “She wasn’t interested in personal honors and she would probably be horrified by the public recognition she has received in providing for the things she loved and in honoring her family name – and her bequest to Coastal is doing just that.”