Through his late wife, Jimmy Bullock grew to have a deep appreciation for music. Her influence led to a support for music that has had a profound effect on Wingate University.
A sizable gift from Bullock helped create the Cynthia LeGette Bullock Center for Music Studies, which opened in early 2015, greatly expanding the rehearsal space available to Wingate’s music students. Bullock, a University trustee and a 1968 Wingate graduate, died last week in Greensboro following a stroke.
The LeGette Bullock wing added 5,000 square feet of valuable rehearsal space to the Batte Center. It is named for Cynthia Bullock, a nurse by trade who also had a passion for music. Cynthia died of cancer in 2009. She and Bullock had been married since 1970.
“Cynthia was a music lover,” says Dr. Kenney Potter, chair of the Music Department. “They ended up supporting the Greensboro Symphony. Through that support, Jim became a lover of music. When she passed away, he wanted to honor her. He saw it as an opportunity, and it met our needs.”
The Legette Bullock wing of the Batte Center includes the Payne Vocal Hall, with permanent tiered standing space, giving Wingate’s choirs a more natural rehearsal area. It also includes a flat space identical to the size of the McGee Theatre stage, enabling Wingate’s opera company to more easily perfect their performances.
Bullock’s gift came at the perfect time for the Music Department, which had become almost too successful. Students who dreamed of becoming performers, church musicians and school music teachers flocked to Wingate’s renowned program, and eventually the department was bursting at the seams.
The opening of the wing doubled the number of practice rooms available to students. “That certainly met a dire need at the time,” Potter says.
Before the Legette Bullock wing opened, the band room was too small for the 50 or so instrumentalists to rehearse comfortably. On the other side of the wall from the band room was the previous vocal hall, which was not large enough for Wingate Opera to rehearse properly. Now that the wall has been torn down and the room remodeled, Wingate’s band is 80 members strong.
“Mr. Bullock’s generosity has made a profound impact on the music department as a whole,” Potter says. “The expansion has really helped our students excel.”
Bullock also pledged a $50,000 challenge gift that has the Music Department’s campaign to become an “all-Steinway” piano school on track.
After graduating from Wingate in 1968, Bullock served in the Special Forces arm of the Coast Guard, where he was the Secret Service officer in charge of Richard Nixon’s security when the president was visiting Key Biscayne. After leaving the service, Bullock and Cynthia moved to his hometown of Greensboro, where he ran his father’s business, Environmental Air Systems. Under Jimmy Bullock, the company grew to over 1,000 employees. Because EAS’s specialty was modular mechanical and electrical construction, during his short time on the Wingate Board of Trustees Bullock helped advise the University on facilities and grounds.
Bullock is survived by his wife, Sherry, whom he married on New Year’s Eve 2015. A celebration of Bullock’s life will be held on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. at Bullock’s Bullhorn Ranch in Liberty, N.C. Sherry, also a music lover, has invited the University’s Chamber Choir to perform at Bullock’s celebration of life.