The Concord University Foundation Receives $1.5 Million Gift From The Estate Of Lia Pais

For Immediate Release: 
Jun 15 2015

CONTACT:  Sarah Dalton

Concord University

Office of Advancement 

PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712

(304) 384-6312,         






ATHENS, W.Va. – The Concord University Foundation, Inc. has received a $1.5 million gift from the estate of Lia Pais. The estate gift is in addition to Pais’ fully funding The John and Lucia Pais Family Fellowship Hall in University Point at Concord University.

The Fellowship Hall is named as a tribute to Lia’s late parents, John Pais and Lucia Vecellio Pais, and family. Since the official dedication of University Point in May 2011, The John and Lucia Pais Family Fellowship Hall has become a popular setting for banquets, conferences, wedding receptions, business meetings, alumni gatherings and other special occasions for Concord University and the community.

“Lia’s gift has given Concord the opportunity to host a number of events in a beautiful setting. We are fortunate Lia thought of Concord and wanted our university to have a space where we could continue to offer events to our alumni, donors and the community,” said Alicia Besenyei, Vice President for Advancement.

The estate gift will be used for maintenance of the Fellowship Hall.

Lia was a 1945 graduate and special friend of Concord. A resident of the Glenwood Park Retirement Village in Princeton, W.Va. at the time of her death, Lia passed away on Jan. 20, 2014.

Born at Switchback, W.Va. on Jan. 9, 1924, she was a graduate of Elkhorn High School and received a bachelor’s degree in education with a major in home economics from Concord. Lia was May Court Queen while a student at Concord.

Lia was formerly employed by the McDowell County Board of Education at Northfork High School. She was also employed at Pocahontas Fuel Company in Switchback. She retired from Appalachian Power Company with 31 years of service, working 20 years in Welch, W.Va. and 11 years in Bluefield, W.Va. as a home economist.

She was the last surviving member of her immediate family. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by one brother, Aldo Pais in 1944; and one sister, Ida Pais Larese in 1984.

“Lia had a sense of humor and was always fun to be around,” special friend Elizabeth Pruett said. “She was also very practical and knew exactly what she wanted and wouldn’t settle for less.  She was a great friend.”

Although Lia’s career included a stint as a teacher, Pruett said she discovered this wasn’t the job for her.

“While she taught at Northfork for a while, it was not to her liking,” she said.

She ended up at Appalachian Power Company where her talents for educating took the form of demonstrating appliances for housewives.

“She did parties to demonstrate appliances and often made presentations. One was when electric dryers came out,” Pruett said.

She goes on to tell how Lia’s wit and humor were reflected in the presentation.

“She used the dryer and a clothesline filled with clothes to demonstrate the advantage of the electric dryer.  She would have someone behind the curtain and when she gave the word, they would pull down the line and all the clothes would fall off,” she said. “Her punch line then would be ‘with the new electric dryer, this will never happen to you.’”

“She was with Appalachian for a number of years and met many people she still was friends with after retirement,” Pruett said.

“I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know Lia. She was funny, witty and very entertaining. She never wanted any recognition for her gifts but her kindness and generosity should be acknowledged. We are incredibly grateful,” said Besenyei.




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if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.