David Harman, former financial consultant and corporate financial officer, helped his friend establish permanent support for Watauga County students through the Don and Audrey Bentley Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Donald W. Bentley Memorial Scholarship Endowment.
After Dr. Don Bentley died in 2005, Harman worked with Audrey Bentley to develop plans to establish scholarships through a planned gift. Harman considered several options, including forming a private foundation. On the suggestion of the professional financial advisor they had engaged to manage Audrey’s financial assets, he connected with the North Carolina Community Foundation in 2014 to discuss their possible role in Audrey’s plans.
“NCCF quickly became the obvious answer,” said Harman. “The organization was large enough to meet our needs, including aiding in the future administration of the scholarship, and yet still highly personal.”
Key to his work, he says, was a trusting relationship with Audrey Bentley. He knew the couple’s values and knew an endowed scholarship would have lasting meaning given Don Bentley’s career as an educator.
“The process of setting up a planned gift like this can be difficult,” said Harman. “NCCF made it easy. They provided literature, language for her attorney to use in her will and trust, and professional staff. I was amazed at how easy it was.”
After Audrey Bentley passed away in 2019, Harman found it simple to execute his friend’s wishes and establish the scholarships at NCCF. And in 2023, the Bentley scholarships were awarded to two Watauga High School seniors, bringing the total awards to over $200,000 to date. Both scholarships will accept applications in 2024.
Harman’s advice to others, “find your opening and take a chance to tell people about NCCF.”
Harman now serves on the Watauga County Community Foundation advisory board and administers both Bentley scholarships, finding great reward and responsibility in selecting recipients who align with the Bentleys’ values.
“I’m really happy that I’ve gotten involved in it especially on a scholarship level,” said Harman.
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