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Creating a Legacy Out of a Lifelong Love of Music

Bill and Joan Edmonds

Bill and Joan Edmonds

Music was always a central figure in the Edmonds household. “Typical Saturday afternoons growing up for me included listening to live Texaco broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera,” recalls Bryson Edmonds. His parents, Bill and Joan Edmonds, “were both lifelong lovers of the arts,” Mr. Edmonds says. “Classical music and the opera were an important part of our daily lives.”

This musical heritage was a family tradition. “My father had a beautiful bass voice,” Mr. Edmonds says. Bill Edmonds grew up singing at the Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, where his father was the founding pastor; he was a lifelong member of the church and served for many years as elder.

At the Virginia Military Institute, where he earned a degree in engineering, Bill Edmonds was president of the Glee Club. In Birmingham, he was a strong personal supporter of the Alabama Symphony, serving as chairman of the board and as president of the Symphony Association. After UAB’s Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center opened in 1996 and became the home for the Alabama Symphony, Bill and Joan Edmonds became strong contributors and active members of the Alys Stephens Center Board.

Continuing the Legacy

In 2000, the Edmonds family ensured their support for the arts in Birmingham—and other UAB causes close to their hearts*—would continue through a deferred gift from a charitable remainder unitrust. Funds from the Edmonds trust were placed in the Alys Stephens Center endowment, which helps sustain free programs that serve the community. This includes school-based programs that enhance learning, events and performances that build community, as well as programs that provide art interactions for patients and families that transform the healing environment at UAB, Children’s of Alabama and assisted living facilities, among many other locations.

One such program is the Alys Stephens Center’s Meet the Artist program, which allows thousands of K-12 students to enjoy free live performances and engage in question-and-answer sessions with the artists themselves. Many schools in the Birmingham metro area, as well as surrounding counties, lack the funding to provide K-12 students exposure to the arts, which is why programs like this are so vital to young learners.

students at a performance

Students enjoy a free live performance at the Alys Stephens Center through the Meet the Artist program, a program that the Edmonds trust helps support.

“Generous contributions to the Alys Stephens Center, like those of the Edmonds, directly impact the lives of students by helping to remove any barriers to participation, including transportation,” says Lili Anderson, senior director of development for ASC. “The experiences that the students gain from learning through the arts helps to level the playing field with their peers from well-resourced communities.”

Music and the arts always played a central role in the lives of Bill and Joan Edmonds. Thanks to their generosity, the arts will continue to enrich the lives of those in Birmingham for years to come.

Like the Edmonds family, you can create your own legacy at UAB. Every donation, no matter the size, makes a great impact. Contact the Office of Planned Giving at 205-996-7533 or plannedgiving@uab.edu today to learn more. To support UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, please contact Lili Anderson at 205-934-6196 or lilida@uab.edu.

*The Edmonds trust benefited three areas: the Alys Stephens Center Endowment, the UAB School of Engineering and the Griffith R. Harsh III, M.D., Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery.

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