1855. His father, honored for bravery in the Mexican War, died when William was 8. His mother, who once was called the richest woman in the South with some $3 million at her disposal, raised her son amid the arts. Their house was filled with paintings, statues and tapestries, and she was fond of giving big parties. His upbringing rubbed off on him. Ackland would write several books and volumes ofpoetry, although there's little vidence he succeeded in getting pub- lished. He earned an undergraduate degree from Nashville University and a law degree from Vanderbilt, although he never practiced. Apparently he didn't inherit money from his mother but received $100,000 from a beloved sister and invested it well enough to become a world traveler. Ackland had a brief marriage, with no children. He relished :m galleries, along with literature, the theatre and tennis. He was an annual visitor to Ormond, Fla.,
and Lake Mohonk, N. Y, and spent part
of each year in Washington, D.c. Sketchy
accounts ofhis life indicate he had few
close friends and lived alone in Washington hotels in his later years.
By the time he was 80, he had about
$1.4 million to give away. Except for
$20,000 to a niece, he made only token
bequeaths to family. In December 1936,
he wrote letters to Duke University,
Rollins College in Florida, and Carolina.
The American South at this time was
not a destination for the art lover. But the
University at least was thinking about
making a move. It made some good ones.
In the sununers of 1934 and ' 35,
North Carolinian Francis Speight was
lured to Chapel Hill from the Pennsylva-
nia Academy of Fine Arts. The attention
his classes drew moved the University
administration toward a larger emphasis
on the arts.