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San Antonio lawyer stewards $1.5 million to OLLU

Apr 15, 2021

As trustee of the C. B. & Anita Branch Trust, San Antonio lawyer Jim Drought has stewarded $1.5 million in gifts to Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) over four years in support of student scholarships, campus preservation and new buildings. 

The latest gift, $50,000, was made to support the Student Emergency Fund, which helps financially challenged students remain in school. The fund benefits students who encounter an unforeseen emergency or a catastrophic event, which would prevent them from continuing their education.

“What better time to contribute to the emergency fund than during a very tough year for students who have had to struggle with online learning and endure personal hardships,” said Drought, President of Drought, Drought & Bobbitt, LLP.  

OLLU President Diane Melby, PhD, is grateful for the generosity of Drought and the trust.

“Jim Drought has been a strong and consistent supporter of OLLU through the C.B. and Anita Branch Trust,” Dr. Melby said. “This latest gift comes at a critical time for our students who are facing unprecedented challenges in unprecedented times.”  

Drought represented Anita Branch, the widow of former Dow Chemical CEO Charles “Ben” Branch, from the late 1990s until her death in 2020. Anita attended New York University for two years but did not have the financial resources to continue. 

“She regretted that she didn’t get to finish,” Drought said, “which is one of the reasons I know she would approve of the scholarship program the Trust has established at OLLU.” 

A devout Catholic who supported education and Catholic charities, Anita and her husband established the C.B. and Anita Branch Foundation in 1995. After Ben Branch’s death years later, Anita appointed Drought as trustee.

In 2017, Drought established the C.B. and Anita Branch Scholarship Fund at OLLU with a $100,000 gift. Since then, Drought has stewarded another $1.4 million to OLLU.

Drought has a strong, historical connection to OLLU. His great-grandfather, H.P. Drought, who founded the family law firm in 1881, was a business partner with Mary Worden, who founded OLLU’s Worden School of Social Service in 1942. Jim’s grandfather, Henry P. Drought, Jr., delivered three commencement addresses at what was then Our Lady of the Lake College. 

“Our Lady of the Lake was an all-women’s college at the time,” Drought said. “My grandfather was an advocate for women’s rights. And those speeches he gave encouraged women to go out and do something great.” 

Drought and Anita lived on ranches about 10 miles apart in Boerne. Their professional relationship grew into a friendship as Anita attended Thanksgiving football games and Christmas parties at the Drought home.  

By the time Drought became trustee of the foundation, he understood Anita’s charitable desires. “It made sense to me,” Drought said, “that giving to OLLU would be something that Anita and Ben Branch would have liked.”