Ewing T. Boles and The Phi Kappa Tau Foundation
In 1940 Boles was formally named director of an endowment drive and on September 6, 1945, the Articles of Incorporation were filed in the office of the Ohio Secretary of State.
The Foundation took a giant leap forward in December 1982 at one of the most significant meetings in the history of the Fraternity. Members of the Foundation board and the national officers from the Fraternity met in Columbus, Ohio and laid the groundwork for a capital campaign title “The Decision for Phi Kappa Tau.”
The initial goal was $2 million, but it soon became apparent that the goal could be exceeded and was therefore raised to $3 million.
Formal announcement to the Fraternity membership was made at the 1983 National Convention in Gulfport, Mississippi and there Boles revealed his intention to personally donate $1 million. At that point his was the largest gift ever made to a fraternity or fraternity foundation in the more than 200-year history of Greek letter organizations.
Boles’ inspiring speech, interrupted many times by ovations, overtook the audience. He explained his loyalty to Phi Kappa Tau by saying that “no matter how much I do for Phi Kappa Tau, I can never repay it for all it has done for me.”
The National Council has since honored Boles by naming him an Honorary Founder of Phi Kappa Tau, to be forever remembered in the same breath as Douglass, Boyd, Shideler and Borradaile. The Executive Offices buildings at both North Campus Avenue and Morning Sun Road were also named for him.
When the “Decision for Phi Kappa Tau” officially ended on December 31, 1984, the $3 million goal was exceeded by $230,000. For his leadership, Boles was given the National Interfraternity Conference’s Gold Medal at its 1985 annual meeting, the highest possible award for a fraternity man.
Boles was intensely involved with Centre College throughout his life. He was elected to the Centre Board of Trustees in 1953 and served as chair 1964–69, for a total of 16 years’ service. In 1969, he was elected one of only four Life Trustees.
Boles received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Centre in 1978 and the Isaac Shelby Medallion in 1971 (named for the first governor of Kentucky, the medallion recognizes outstanding public service). He was president of the Centre Alumni Association, 1951–52.
Boles Natatorium on the Centre College campus was dedicated in 1968. Boles Hall was built and named in his honor after his death in 1992.
Estate gifts resulted in the establishment of the Ewing T. Boles scholarships and professorships at Centre. The grants are given to students “who have demonstrated excellence of achievement in all areas of living and high academic scholarship, with preference to students from Grant County, Kentucky, and Franklin County, Ohio, two places that figured prominently in Mr. Boles’ life and career.
Boles provided a legacy that would last well after his death in November 1992. The announcement of his death and his subsequent $3.7 million bequest to the Phi Kappa Tau Foundation was made at the 1993 National Convention. The news of Boles’ death brought a special poignancy to the words of “The Brotherhood Song” that closed the Convention.