The estate of the late Walter J. Zable ’37, LL.D. ’78 has provided a $23.9 million gift to William & Mary, $20 million of which will be split between scholarships for student athletes and renovations to the stadium that carries his name. The gift ranks among the largest single gifts in W&M’s 320-year history.
Zable, who died in June 2012 at the age of 97, instructed in his will that William & Mary receive $10 million toward scholarships for student athletes. Another $10 million will go toward future renovations of Zable Stadium, which was built in 1935 and is in dire need of repair. The remaining $3.9 million was undesignated and W&M is currently exploring the best use for the funds.
“Walt was a devoted son of William & Mary who maintained close ties to the College throughout his long and marvelously successful life,” said President Taylor Reveley. “He was exceptional both as an athlete and a student, and he loved that William & Mary athletes succeed in their classrooms as well as in their sports. Walt did care deeply about Tribe athletics, particularly his beloved football team and their stadium.”
Walt Zable himself was a gifted athlete. A Boston native, he turned down a scholarship offer from Harvard University to attend William & Mary, where he became an honorable mention All-American in football while also lettering in baseball, basketball and track. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the College and met his late wife of 65 years, Betty Virginia Carter Zable ’40.
Those academic and emotional ties to the school remained strong all of his life, even after he moved to California in the early 1940s. In 1949, he started his own business in his garage focused on microwave technology. The business later moved to an office in Point Loma, Calif., where the Cubic Corporation made its first profitable product, a gadget that measured the power of microwaves. Today, the company is a global leader in the development of technology systems for military training and transportation services. Cubic has a presence in nearly 60 nations and employs about 8,000 workers worldwide. Zable served as Cubic’s chief executive, chairman and president until his passing.
Zable remained very connected with his alma mater. In 1971, he was awarded the Alumni Medallion, the highest honor given by the Alumni Association. In 1978, William & Mary awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree. He served on the College’s Board of Visitors from 1992 until 2000.