William & Mary

An everlasting legacy

William & Mary Law School receives $1 million scholarship bequest from the Spainhours

The legacy of T. Howard Spainhour ’54, B.C.L. ’56 and Nancy W. Spainhour will live on through a $1 million commitment the late couple gave to fund scholarships at William & Mary Law School.

“The Spainhours wanted to give back so students would not have to be concerned about financial restraints in order to pursue a law degree,” said John Padgett, a colleague and friend of the Spainhours. “Mr. Spainhour came from humble beginnings and always recognized William & Mary Law School as his point of ascension. It was his chance to accomplish things that he never thought he could accomplish as a young adult.”

The bequest will be used to establish the Howard and Nancy Spainhour Law Scholarship Endowment Fund. The commitment will cover tuition and provide a living expense stipend for law students. 

“The Spainhours’ generous bequest will fund generations of William & Mary Law students who will uphold the citizen lawyer ideal by going out and serving the greater good,” said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School. 

The Spainhours were married for over 60 years. Howard Spainhour was born in Forsythe County, North Carolina. He attended William & Mary after having a career in the United States Air Force where he served as a bomber pilot in World War II. Nancy Spainhour was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, and attended Maury High School.

“Mrs. Spainhour was a devoted stay-at-home mother to their only son,” Padgett said. “She was very engaging, a wonderful storyteller and a strong-minded individual.”

Howard Spainhour was a transactional lawyer for most of his career. He founded the McGuireWoods branch in Norfolk in the 1980s, a leading law firm in Virginia. He was viewed as a pioneer in the field of law and was one of the first tax attorneys, Padgett said. The Virginia Bar Association recognized him for 50 years of service before he passed away.

The Spainhours had a strong belief in the power of education. Howard spent much of his time reading to children at Norfolk Collegiate School. He would pass out dollar coins during his regular visits.

“He recognized that education was a critical part of being a solid and productive citizen in the United States and that once obtained, anything is possible,” Padgett said.