- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Growing up, L. Gordon Croft did not know what path life would take him down. Decades later, the Charles County native has come to enjoy immense success, which he believes is because of three words: “Never give up.”
Croft, a Port Tobacco native who now resides in Baltimore, was educated at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Because he grew up on a farm in the area, Croft said during a phone interview that he felt blessed to even be able to attend college. Sixty-seven years after his graduation from the institution, the one-time Charles County farm boy has a building on the Hopkins campus named after him, which was dedicated May 3.
“They wanted more money for the school, and they asked me if I’d give it to them if they named it after me. That, to me, was a no-brainer,” Croft said of his decision to give the school a $5.4 million gift. “I’m more interested in people and infrastructure than I am in buildings, but I have to admit that was a pretty good feeling to have it done for me.”
Croft Hall, a 38,000-square-foot building that previously sat nameless on the campus, houses many different engineering classes at the university. Croft is a graduate of the school’s engineering program.
Hanging in the main lobby of the building, Croft said, is a plaque with his picture that repeats the phrase “Never give up,” a Winston Churchill quote that always has resonated with him.
“I think if Churchill had given up, a lot of people would be speaking German right now,” Croft said. “The tendency for a lot of people is to give up. … But scholarships abound so that kids can get to go to school. There’s a way.”
Despite the success he has enjoyed, Croft remains humble about how far he has come.
“It all came from down in Charles County. I was a poor country boy raised on a tobacco farm, and it was because of Charles County people that I got the scholarship to go to Hopkins,” Croft said. “Some people have told me it’s a great role model for kids going to school, and what I’ve done is … a lot to help disadvantaged children, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”
In the county, Croft is a regular contributor to programs that will help ensure the success of Charles County students. Croft said he has donated 300 laptops to elementary and middle schools in the county that are intended for students who do not have access to such technology at home, so that they might be able to take them home. He also has endowed eight scholarships for high school students in the county continuing to colleges, including one for his alma mater and Dartmouth College, Randolph-Macon College, Washington & Lee University and the College of Southern Maryland, and three for prospective University of Maryland, College Park students.
Richard Winkler, a friend of Croft’s who first made his acquaintance through business dealings the two had, said Croft’s biggest hope is that students will learn about his story and be inspired to pursue their own success.
“He didn’t come from a great deal of prestige, notoriety and success,” Winkler said. “It’s been effort and dedication. He’s self-made. He was lucky enough to get a scholarship to go to college.”
Winkler said he views Croft’s humble roots as proof that success is always attainable, no matter where one begins in life.
“He’s simply saying … maybe there’s some kid sitting in Charles County saying, ‘I was born into this and there’s no escape,’ and Gordon is saying, ‘Oh, yes, there is. I’m living proof,’” Winkler said. “If you have enough determination and motivation, you can succeed. He has never forgotten where he came from. He could have gone to Baltimore, enjoyed his success … but he loves Charles County. He really, truly does.”
Croft worked at the T. Rowe Price investment firm before starting his own, Croft Leominster.