Real Estate

Family’s Gift Honors Legacy of 1941 FSCW Graduate

Adapted from an article that appeared in the College of Arts and Sciences’ magazine, Spectrum

Like so many of her generation, Frances Cushing Ervin—a 1941 graduate of the Florida State College for Women—chose to forgo a career to stay at home and care for her husband and children.

“My mother never pursued a career of her own,” said Ervin’s daughter, Anne Rowe. “But what she did instead was inspire other people to accomplish things.”

Rowe herself is living proof of Frances’ encouragement. Now retired, Rowe served as dean of the faculties and deputy provost at The Florida State University. Before that, she was an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the English department. Rowe is also the mother of three grown children and the grandmother of four.

“During the times my children were young and I was in school or working, my mother always encouraged me, told me I could achieve whatever I wanted,” said Rowe.

Similarly, Frances’ husband and son also flourished under her care. Robert M. “Bob” Ervin Sr. served in the Marines during World War II. When the war ended, he established a law firm that grew to be one of the largest and most prominent in Tallahassee and was a major player in the American Bar Association at the state and national levels. Their son Robert Ervin Jr. is now a partner in the family law firm and a dedicated parent with three children of his own.

Like many FSCW women of the World War II generation, Frances Cushing Ervin’s greatest legacy may well be her family and their accomplishments, from her husband on down to her grandchildren. Unlike their husbands, however, who were much decorated for their accomplishments on battlefields and in board rooms, these women have no medals to show for their years of hard work.

Yet every now and then, one of these families chooses to remember the love and devotion of such everyday heroes by making gifts in their name—for causes they know that their mothers, wives and grandmothers cared about. Such is the case with the Ervins and the gift they have given to the university that meant so much to their mother.

After Frances’ death on Jan. 9, 2007, her husband and children determined that an appropriate way to honor her memory was with a gift reflecting her interests, and thus decided to create a professorship in her name. The Frances Cushing Ervin Professorship in the Department of English was established to further scholarship in English or American literature. Professor Bruce Boehrer is the current holder of the named chair.

Pleased with the initial gift facilitated by Anne and Robert Jr., Bob Ervin Sr. made the decision to make an additional gift to the fund—that of the couple’s Tallahassee home.

This type of gift, formally referred to as a retained life estate, allows the donor to make a significant gift to The Florida State University. The donor may continue living in his or her home throughout his or her lifetime while benefiting from an income tax deduction in the year the gift was made. If at any time the donor decides to relinquish the life estate, he or she may do so. Otherwise, the property is given over to the university after the donor’s lifetime.

To learn more about making a gift of real estate to The Florida State University Real Estate Foundation, contact Laura Powell, treasurer, at (850) 644-0749 or

Gifts to the Frances Cushing Ervin Professorship can be made online at or by mail to the FSU Foundation at 2010 Levy Ave., PO Box 3062739, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2739. Please include the fund number with your gift: Frances Cushing Ervin Professorship in English (F00437).