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Founders Day 2023 celebrates Molly Wiley

Sep 29, 2023
by Anna Boone

Each year Flagler celebrates the College’s founders: visionaries who established the institution and laid groundwork for Flagler’s continued success.

There were multiple people who played key roles in Flagler’s founding, but this year the College highlighted Molly Wiley. She was the sister to Lawrence Lewis Jr. and great niece of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, the third wife and heir of Henry Flagler.

Molly and brother standing beside a portrait of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler
Molly and brother standing beside a portrait of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler

Molly Wiley is remembered as a remarkable individual who cherished the “wonderful” things in life, including her passion for golf, green-thumbed gardening expertise, and an unwavering commitment to art appreciation. She was instrumental in the early success of the College, and the namesake of the Molly Wiley Art Building.  

“I was the most outspoken member of the not-on-the-board,” Molly Wiley said. “No, I was never put on the Board because I think Lawrence knew it didn’t make any difference whether I was on or not, that I was going to be heard.” 

Founder’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the date the College hosted its first day of classes in 1968. This year’s celebration, held on Sept. 28, was hosted by Flagler’s Special Events team with elements and activities that nodded to Wiley’s passions. This included bright and floral decorations, a garden-themed sunglass decorating activity, and a golf putting station hosted by Campus Recreation.

Founder’s Day also included an archival exhibit curated by the Proctor Library staff about Molly Wiley and her involvement with the College.  

“Molly Wiley was a very generous benefactor for the College,” Former President William Abare said. “She and her brother Lawrence Lewis Jr. Basically kept the College afloat for its first 10 years or so.” 

Wiley’s attitude was one of optimism and gratitude that all those around her appreciated.  

“She always said she had a wonderful life,” her son Lewis Pollard said.  

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