Walking around the Coppin State University campus, Florine Camphor looks like an octogenarian cheerleader, wearing a sequined hat, blue suit and gold shirt representing the school colors.
Nearby, her husband, James, 91, is spinning stories about a scoring record he holds from his years on the campus basketball team more than a half-century ago.
University leaders say the Camphors – known as “Winky and Peaches” – are celebrities on campus: Everyone knows who they are.
They are Coppin’s top supporters, unlikely philanthropists who spent their careers inside Maryland schools and their lifetimes scrimping and saving.
The couple has endowed $200,000 to the university in scholarships for some 200 students. Their generosity also comes in whispers to a graduate to call if he gets into money troubles and the creation of the “benevolent fund” for homeless students to buy books, food or bus fare. They have organized jazz shows and golf tournaments and nudged their classmates to give.
“I was taught early: The more you give, the more that comes back to you,” said Mr. Camphor, dubbed Winky as a kid for the way he flutters his eyelids.
“Coppin gave to me, and I have to give back to Coppin.”
Mrs. Camphor – who says the midwife misunderstood her mother’s craving after giving birth and scrawled “Peaches” on her birth certificate – said their giving is intended to make sure money never stands between a young person and a college degree. She started donating to Coppin as soon as she earned her first paychecks with her teaching degree. She worked as a reading specialist by day in Cherry Hill and Brooklyn and Clifton Park. By night, she kept records for a flower shop.
“If it hadn’t been for God and Coppin, I have no idea where I would be,” Mrs. Camphor, 82, said. “All I can do is help somebody along the way.”