Rodes & Patricia Hart
A dedicated philanthropist gets a little assistance in learning the piano, and decides to give back.
When Nashville businessman Rodes Hart decided to purchase a piano for his office, the first person to point him toward Lipscomb University was longtime friend and Lipscomb board of trustees member Robbie Davis. She suggested that he contact Professor Jerome Reed for assistance -- advice that was endorsed by a number of others in the music community.
Hart contacted Reed, an internationally acclaimed concert pianist and 27-year member of the Lipscomb music faculty, who was experienced at selecting the instruments for the university and other venues. Together they chose a Steinway Model B grand piano.
But the relationship did not end there. Hart, a longtime fan of music and the arts, was also looking for a piano instructor. He had taken lessons as a young child, but work had consumed most of his adult years. At 78, he was anxious to take up for lost time.
Reed agreed to teach him for the summer and see how it progressed. During the course of that summer, they developed a close friendship. “Rodes proved to be one of the most diligent and dedicated students I have ever taught,” Reed said. “I enjoyed seeing his progress so much that it became a pleasure to watch how quickly he was improving.”
When September arrived, Reed agreed to continue teaching his new student, and Hart expressed his appreciation to Reed by giving $1 million to Lipscomb to endow the Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair in Piano. Reed became the first holder of this chair. Hart, who admits he didn’t know much about Lipscomb University until he met Reed, wanted to do something to support piano teaching specifically because of what Reed had done for him.
“I am so amazed by Jerry’s ability and skill. I wanted to do something significant for him and for the department,” Hart said. The endowed chair provides many opportunities for Lipscomb’s music faculty and for its students.
Hart is the former owner of Franklin Industries, Inc. He and his wife have contributed to Lipscomb’s Steinway Initiative and have endowed chairs in education and medicine at other universities. They are benefactors of numerous arts and educational organizations in Nashville as well.