A new scholarship at the Law School at Washington and Lee University will favor students from West Virginia.
That award, the Honorable Robert Kent Smith '48L Law Scholarship, was established this week with a gift from the estate of former Kanawha County Circuit Judge Robert Smith.
The $860,000 gift will establish an annual award for a law student from West Virginia.
Smith worked as a judge in West Virginia for 24 years: He was elected domestic relations judge in 1964 and became a Kanawha County Circuit Judge in 1962.
He attended Charleston High School and graduated from Washington and Lee's University of Law in 1948, going on to serve in World War II before returning to Charleston. Smith also served as a faculty member at what was then called Morris Harvey College — now the University of Charleston. He died last year.
Since then, his family has donated sizable portions of his estate to higher education. In March, the family donated $1.5 million to the University of Charleston to fund a new simulation lab for the school's nursing program and a handful of nursing scholarships, and helped establish a new English as a Second Language program at UC.
Smith arranged that gift before his death to honor his wife Mary, who worked as a nurse.
His family say this gift to Washington and Lee is appropriate because of the fondness the judge always carried for his alma mater.
"My uncle had three great loves in his life: his wife, his daughter, and his law school," Smith's niece Nancy Brown said in a release. "I believe it was Washington and Lee that made my uncle the man he was to be the rest of his life. He recognized this himself and that's why W&L meant so much to him."
Pete Jetton, a Washington and Lee spokesman, said that while many of the law school's scholarships are awarded based solely on merit, this one would also take need into account.
"And the preference is for a West Virginia student," he said. "So those are all the factors that will go into the decision process."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.