Visionary NGU Benefactor T. Walter Brashier Dies
Tigerville, SC (March 24, 2021) Dr. T. Walter Brashier, Sr., long-time friend of North Greenville University and a noted businessman, evangelist, and philanthropist, died March 24, 2021. He was 86.
Brashier had battled several health issues in recent years but continued engaging with evangelical ministry and the higher education causes he had supported through transformational gifts throughout his career. The successful real estate developer was NGU’s greatest individual donor, with his philanthropic investments to the university nearing $10 million since an initial 1972 gift to fund construction of apartment units on the Tigerville campus.
“Dr. Brashier asked me to come see him the first week of my presidency,” NGU President Gene C. Fant, Jr., recalled, “and I will never forget that meeting. When he came into the room and greeted me in that sonorous voice, quickly moving to encourage me and share his passion for students, I knew he would be a friend unlike any other. We soon became prayer partners – praying for the university and our families in particular – and no one encouraged me more than he did in these years.”
After his initial major gift to fund a two-story campus housing structure, Brashier invested in several North Greenville projects. He started an endowed fund, the T. Walter Brashier and Family Scholarship, in 1998. He has contributed more than $4.5 million in scholarship funds at NGU, adding the Martin Timothy Brashier Graduate Scholarship in 2017 and the T. Walter Brashier Family Christian Ministry Graduate Scholarship in 2019.
“In business and in ministry, Dr. Brashier was the very incarnation of strategy,” Fant said. “Every conversation and every gift underscored his passion for working families and working adults. He gave to scholarships and new programs—including $1 million in new Martin Timothy Brashier Scholarships for our Brashier campus programs in Greer, which was the first major gift of this administration in 2017—always emphasizing that he wanted God’s money to be given through him to serve these students. He affirmed my arrival to campus, the university’s long-range plans, and our commitment to affordable Christ-first education with his visionary gifts and connections. This past December he made another significant gift to the university, marking his sixth decade of generous support to our community.”
The university’s T. Walter Brashier Graduate School was launched in 2005 with a $1 million lead gift investment by Brashier. The graduate school opened its doors at a repurposed church building in Greer and was relocated in 2016 to a contemporary two-story building near downtown Greer. Brashier led the university in the launch of that purchase, which is now the Tim Brashier Campus, housing professional and non-traditional academic programs, including the graduate Physician Assistant program. The graduate school campus is named for Martin Timothy Brashier, the late son of Brashier and his wife, Christine.
“Although many people knew Dr. Brashier as a businessman and philanthropist, I always connected with his heart as a preacher and an evangelist,” said Dr. Larry McDonald, NGU Associate Provost of Graduate Programs and Dean of the T. Walter Brashier School of Graduate Studies. “He was greatly interested in the success of NGU’s Graduate School of Ministry, and the training of ministerial students. His investment in our students will continue to reap dividends throughout the world for the Kingdom of God.”
Greer officials voted in 2018 to name the street connecting Poinsett Street to the Tim Brashier Campus “Walter Brashier Drive,” honoring his investment in educational opportunities for the local community. In late 2018, Brashier purchased and donated a two-story 17,225-square-foot building adjacent to the Tim Brashier Campus to provide resources for future expansion of the graduate school facilities.
“Dr. Brashier’s steadfast generosity, fueled by his love for the Lord, made an immeasurable impact on North Greenville University’s Tim Brashier Campus. His legacy will continue to live on in the countless number of students, faculty, and staff impacted by his life at our beloved campus, university, and beyond,” said Justin Pitts, NGU Assistant Vice President for Greer Campus Operations.
An Upstate native, Thomas Walter Brashier was born November 1, 1934, in Fork Shoals, SC. As a teenager, he worked at a gas station and funeral home. Noted for his care for grieving families and praised for his preaching at funeral services, he became a local church pastor. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and completed graduate study at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Erskine.
Brashier said as a young man he felt God’s challenge to use his gifts to support evangelistic ministry. He moved from the pastorate to being a full-time evangelist with a heavy travel schedule. After a friend from one of his former pastorates asked him to join in a real estate venture which quickly returned a multiplied profit, Brashier said he realized God wanted him to support ministry through business endeavors.
Over a career spanning more than six decades, Brashier supported local, national, and international Southern Baptist evangelical ministries. He was a major supporter of the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission during that entity’s strongest period of ministry in the 1960s,’70s, and ’80s, as the commission provided popular gospel-themed weekly radio broadcasts across America.
In South Carolina, Brashier supported several higher education institutions. Locally, his investment in private and public educational enterprises has created opportunities for students at all age levels.
Brashier attended Scenic Hills Baptist Church in northern Travelers Rest, where his son, Tommy, serves as pastor.
He is survived by his wife, Christine; a daughter, Kathy Brashier Higgins and her husband, John; two sons, Rev. Thomas Walter Brashier, Jr., (’75), Ted Brashier and his wife, Angela; and predeceased by his son Martin Timothy Brashier (‘79). He had 13 grandchildren, including NGU alumnus S. Wesley Brashier (MCM, ’10), and 11 great-grandchildren.
In recognition of Dr. Brashier’s life and legacy, President Fant has directed that all NGU flags be flown at half-staff through sundown Friday, March 26, 2021. Commemorative wreaths have been placed at NGU’s Tim Brashier Campus in Greer and in the Donnan Administration Building on the university’s Tigerville campus.