When Sandy and Tim Sizemore met as students at the VCU School of Business in 1981, they never dreamed how large a role VCU would play in their careers, lives and legacies. Nearly 40 years later, and one year after Tim’s tragic death at age 58, Sandy made the bold decision to create an endowed economics scholarship in Tim’s name and to bequeath half of the couple’s estate to VCU Athletics and the VCU School of Business, two institutions she credits with bringing them tremendous joy and fulfillment.
Trajectories defined by the School of Business
Unlike many business majors, Tim seemingly knew from Day One that he wanted to major in Economics. He paired that with classes in real estate. Sandy ultimately discovered that she wanted to pursue business administration with a concentration in real estate.
While in the School of Business, she befriended another “business groupie,” Karen Sizemore, who one day told her, “I want you to meet my brother.” Days later, on February 27, 1981, Sandy and Tim met at a sandwich shop at Laurel and Main. Before the date was over, Tim stated plainly, “I’d like to go out with you.”
Born a year before Sandy, Tim had a jump on VCU’s finest professors and best classes and was keen to share his recommendations and insights with his girlfriend.
“We had Dr. [James] Boykin one year apart,” Sandy recalls. “I borrowed all Tim’s notes and took them to class.” Together the couple made – and paid – their way through the School of Business.
Tim applied the lessons he learned in Econ classes to every aspect of his life. “We dated for seven years before we got married,” Sandy explains. “We wanted to wait until we both had full-time jobs. Instead of having a wedding, we eloped. We used the money we might have spent on a wedding to put a down payment on our first house”.
Even in the 1980s, VCU’s career development support and alumni network were strong. “VCU has always been good to me,” she says, “After graduation, Dr. Boykin helped me find a job with Morton G. Thalhimer. I became a commercial real estate agent – one of only three women there.”
Tim graduated in 1982, and, given the recession, grabbed whatever job opportunities he was able to find. Eventually an opportunity came up as an appraiser trainee. He wisely took a pay cut to work in the field of his choice and never looked back – staying with the County of Henrico Finance Department as a commercial appraiser for more than 30 years.
“Tim used his economics and his smarts to plan our lives. We paid off our houses and our cars. And ultimately we were able to travel. We took 50 trips in 2016,” she remembers. We lived life to its fullest.”
Go Rams! Go!
Sports was another huge part of the Sizemores’ lives. The couple began attending VCU games as students and the tradition continued after they graduated. “When basketball games were at the coliseum, we would just walk up and buy five-dollar tickets. When they moved to the Seigel Center, we became season ticket holders. I think we only missed five home games over all these years.”
A highlight, of course, was VCU men’s basketball’s legendary 2011 Final Four run. “The minute they won [their Elite Eight game], I booked tickets to Houston and back. We flew with [then VCU] President Trani both ways.”
Paying it forward
When Tim died of a sudden heart attack on January 11, 2018, at age 58, VCU immediately came to Sandy’s mind as part of his legacy. For his obituary announcement, Sandy selected a photo of Tim at his happiest – sitting beside Rodney the Ram at a VCU baseball game.
“We had no children and, with Tim gone, I started to think, ‘Who do I leave my money to?’” Sandy says. “I decided I wanted to do something to honor Tim, and VCU made us both become who we were.”
Tim and Sandy both benefited from scholarships as students. Tim earned education savings bonds as a newspaper carrier for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Sandy was awarded the C. Porter Vaughan Scholarship for real estate students.
For Sandy, it seemed logical to ultimately bequeath half of her estate – in equal parts – to VCU Athletics as well as the VCU School of Business. But first, she resolved to create a scholarship in Tim’s name.
“If you look at how he lived his life and how he treated people, I think he would be glad to help someone who is trying to make it through college.” Through a multi-year commitment, Sandy will be making an outright gift of $37,500 to establish the Timothy R. Sizemore Endowed Scholarship in Economics. In consideration of her desire to have an immediate impact, $2,500 of each annual payment will be awarded as immediate scholarship funding for students.
“We have so few economics scholarships,” says Joey Broussard, III, VCU School of Business senior director of development. “This is the first named for an alumnus. It’s really wonderful that she’s doing this.”
“I have such fond memories of Tim as an undergraduate student. He was a serious-minded student,” says Dr. Jack Boykin, professor emeritus and founder of the real estate program at VCU. “I’m so pleased Sandy has seen fit to create this scholarship in his memory.”
“It’s okay to be a nerd.”
Asked if there is anything she would like the scholarship recipient to know, Sandy laughs. “It’s okay to be a nerd,” she smiles. “Tim was focused on getting his degree and taking as many classes as he could to earn a general real estate appraisal license. He knew that if you could combine the economics side with something else it would go further.”
Sandy’s planned bequest is meant to honor Tim and to help perpetuate two institutions that enriched their lives.
“VCU brought two people together and it made my life to marry my best friend,” Sandy says. “I decided it would be best for the scholarship to be about what Tim believed in – economics. It makes me happy that I can see this happen while I’m still here.”