Rhys Lewis started his working life at 14, in the coalmines. After taking classes in night school, he enrolled at University, first in Swansea and then Aberystwyth, where he studied history and economic history.
He graduated in 1931, and turned to teaching, ending up as principal lecturer and head of history at a college that is now part of Reading University.
The bequest will be used to buy history books for the university library.
“We are deeply appreciative of Mr Lewis’ bequest, one which I am sure will be of great benefit to current and future generations of students,” Professor April McMahon, the university’s vice-chancellor, told the BBC. “His story is truly inspirational and testament to what a university education has to offer mature students.