DALLAS (SMU) — A new bequest distribution of more than $2 million to Southern Methodist University from the will of former U.S. Congressman and Judge Brady P. Gentry will double the size of a scholarship fund for students from several East Texas counties.

Gentry, who died in 1966, included in his will a trust that established the Brady P. Gentry Endowed Scholarship Fund at SMU, which provides scholarships for qualified students from Smith, Van Zandt, Gregg, Wood, Upshur, Camp, Panola, and Rusk counties, all in East Texas. Through the years, SMU has received grants from the trust worth more than $2.5 million. In October 2006, the trust was terminated and the proceeds were distributed. At that time, the University received more than $2 million for the Gentry Scholarship Fund, which now totals approximately $5 million.

“We are deeply grateful for Brady Gentry’s foresight and generosity in creating a trust in his will enabling future generations of East Texas students to benefit from an SMU education.” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Planned giving through bequests, charitable trusts, gift annuities, and other vehicles allows individuals to leave a lasting legacy that benefits future generations.”

Individuals who help to ensure SMU’s future through planned gifts are members of the Dallas Hall Society, which has more than 450 current members. The organization, established in 1995, bears the name of SMU’s first building. Dallas Hall was named in recognition of the local residents whose gifts brought the University to Dallas and funded the construction of its first building. Dallas Hall, which opened in 1915, remains the physical symbol of the University.

Gentry, who began his career as an attorney in Smith County of East Texas, became one of the nation’s foremost authorities on highway development and administration. He served as county judge for four terms in the 1930s before being appointed in 1939 to chair the Texas Highway Commission. Serving in that role until 1945, he was instrumental in developing the state’s farm road system. In 1952 Gentry was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and as a member of the House Committee on Highways and Roads, played a major role in shaping the national system of interstate highways.