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Donor Spotlight: Robert
Monday, June 23, 2014

Robert S. of Brandon, Mississippi, is a man of many interests who has seen much of the country and worked in a variety of fields in his lifetime. But it was not until he familiarized himself with Hillsdale College just a few years ago that he discovered what would become his passion—learning about the Constitution. Through his association with Hillsdale, he has gained a new respect for our nation’s founding document and has generously supported Hillsdale’s efforts in spreading that knowledge to others.

A native of Missouri, Robert entered the Marine Corps 3D Program during World War II. He had orders to deploy to the Pacific upon completion of his training, but Japan surrendered before he left. Ultimately, he served with the 2nd Marine Division in Japan, relieving combat veterans.

Following his military service, he attended and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in electrical engineering and then began working in Natchez, Mississippi, with Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services industry. He next accepted a job in Midland, Texas, with Halliburton as a sales manager for its electric logging department. While there, he started a construction business on the side, building 10-15 homes per year. Eventually, he returned to Mississippi and continued with his construction business, expanding it to include sewer and water lines. He sold the business in 2010.

In 1945, he married his childhood sweetheart and they had two children. Throughout the family’s moves, his wife remained active in the Republican Party, serving twice as an election commissioner. She enjoyed listening to conservative talk radio and reading books such as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. After she passed away in 2010, Robert discovered another “good read” among her things—Hillsdale’s monthly speech digest Imprimis. He also found that she had made several small contributions to Hillsdale. Intrigued, he began reading Imprimis and learning about the college that had caught the attention of his wife.

In just three years, Robert has immersed himself in Hillsdale’s programs, attending National Leadership Seminars, receptions, and a CCA. But perhaps most influential in his life have been the Hillsdale Hostels he has attended. At the Phoenix National Leadership Seminar in 2011, President Arnn’s wife Penny encouraged him to attend a Hostel, weeklong summer programs for seniors held on Hillsdale’s campus. He did, and he has returned to campus several times for the summer programs, making many new friends in the process. “The Hostel is such a good time and gives you an opportunity to learn so much,” Robert says. “I never received such an understanding of and appreciation for American history and the Constitution as I did at Hillsdale Hostel.” He applauds Hillsdale for being one of only a handful of schools that requires students to take a class on the Constitution.

Years ago, Robert set up a charitable remainder trust in memory of his grandson. After his wife’s passing, he terminated the trust early and donated the proceeds to the National Leadership Seminars endowment. More recently, he established a charitable gift annuity with Hillsdale College. Through this arrangement, he receives an income stream for life, and upon his death, all the proceeds from the annuity will benefit Hillsdale.

Robert is proud to support Hillsdale’s work in educating students and citizens about the Constitution and hopes that Hillsdale can help restore a respect for the Constitution among Americans. “The salvation of our country is getting young people to know about our founding and the Constitution,” he says.

Donor Spotlight: Claude & Cindy
Monday, June 23, 2014

For Claude and Cindy of Pennsylvania, an ad for charitable remainder trusts (CRT) in an issue of Imprimis first sparked their interest in Hillsdale College. While doing additional research online, they learned about Hillsdale’s commitment to educational independence and its emphasis on providing a classical liberal arts education. After contacting Hillsdale for additional information, Michael Fanning, director of the Southeast Regional Office of Institutional Advancement, met with them, addressing all questions and concerns. They quickly concluded that Hillsdale was an excellent match based on their own principles. Now, as members of The President’s Club, they have not only established a CRT in support of Hillsdale, but have further enriched their lives through interactions with Hillsdale faculty, staff, students, and attendance at Hillsdale programs.

Claude and Cindy's commitment and enthusiasm to Hillsdale’s founding principles remains stronger than ever. “Hillsdale’s fierce determination to remain independent from the influence of government is compelling,” they say. “Here is a college that is not trying to indoctrinate its students, but rather teach them about America’s history and founding principles through the study of the Constitution and other historical documents while encouraging free thought.” Both speak highly of Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative and applaud its efforts to bring a classical education to younger students. They believe that “it’s essential early on to build a strong foundation in a classical education rooted in our Constitutional principles.”

Claude joined the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after high school. After spending time on active duty and in the reserves, he was discharged in 1972. He married Cindy in 1974, and with her support, embarked on his educational journey. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in education, he accepted a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs teaching at Crazy Horse School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota. While there, Cindy provided childcare services for local families. Claude then returned to college, receiving an M.A. in art therapy and later a Ph.D. in psychology. He combined his military experience with his training in psychology, resulting in a position with the Army’s Family Advocacy Program Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to being an instructor at the Academy of Health Sciences in San Antonio, Texas, he was a Department of Defense (DOD) Family Advocacy Command Assistance Team leader, providing onsite assistance to installation commanders at any U.S. military installation worldwide. He also sat on numerous DOD subcommittees at the Pentagon, covering a unique blend of Family Advocacy issues and topics. In retirement, he enjoys astronomy, flying antique airplanes, and building violins. Cindy, who has an associate’s degree in animal science, founded a cat sanctuary in 1995, and to this day, protects and finds homes for abandoned and feral cats. She also provides a variety of support services for two local senior families and enjoys crocheting and gardening in her free time. The couple will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this year.

Claude and Cindy used the funds from the sale of inherited property to establish a CRT at Hillsdale. The CRT provides tax savings and a lifetime income distribution to both of them while also supporting Hillsdale College—creating “a win-win situation for all concerned,” they say. They later willed the majority of their estate to the College. The CRT and their bequest will fund scholarships for U.S. Marines, their families, and Navy Corpsmen who supported Marine units in combat.

When given the opportunity, they have always enjoyed talking with President Larry Arnn, faculty, staff members, and distinguished guests of the College, but they receive their greatest joy in talking with current students, whom they affectionately refer to as their “adopted kids.” “Hillsdale students are a remarkable and diverse group,” they say. “They are independent thinkers and seem destined to become our future leaders and defenders of the principles of our constitutional government. We are so blessed and privileged to be a part of Hillsdale’s legacy to America.”

Donor Spotlight: Gerald
Monday, June 23, 2014

It is difficult to comprehend the hardship that Gerald endured as a child during the Great Depression and World War II. Growing up fatherless and poor, he ate discarded restaurant food, wore tattered hand-me-downs, moved around frequently and lived in run-down apartments without heat, and spent most nights alone with his three siblings while their mother worked third shift. Yet his mother impressed upon her children the importance of hard work, personal responsibility, fierce patriotism, and an optimistic attitude even in the face of extreme hardship. Gerald has carried those virtues with him throughout his life, using them to rise above his humble beginnings to lead a successful career and family life. Now, he aims to help Hillsdale College students emulate those same characteristics through the establishment of an endowed scholarship.

Gerald served in the Air Force as a crew chief on a B-36 bomber during the Korean War. After his discharge, he returned to Chicago, where he had spent most of his youth, and earned a degree in architectural engineering from Chicago Technical College. He got a job as building department engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad. After several years, he accepted a job at a company that designed and built oil-, gas-, and coal-fired power plants. The company later switched to building nuclear-power plants, and Gerald went from working on detailed design functions to overall project planning. He later worked for a small engineering firm in Jackson, Michigan. When the bulk of that company’s operations moved to Pennsylvania, Gerald, wanting to keep his family in Michigan, formed his own consulting company in the field of nuclear power.

Gerald first learned about Hillsdale the way so many friends of the College do: someone signed him up for an Imprimis subscription. He attended a lecture on campus and was impressed with what he heard. Since that time, some 15 years ago, Gerald and his wife of nearly 60 years have attended numerous programs on and off campus, joined The President’s Club, funded the greenhouse in the Moss Laboratory Wing of Strosacker Science Center, and donated a house to the College. To celebrate that donation, they held a reception for local Hillsdale supporters at their new house in Allegan, Michigan, with Hillsdale President Larry Arnn as a special guest.

Gerald has found a common purpose in Hillsdale and its emphasis on the very principles his mother worked so hard to impart to her children. He learned the value of hard work when his mother got him a job selling newspapers at the tender age of eight. He developed a love of country and history as his mother read books and articles to the family each evening, often about current events. He also saw his mother’s patriotism on display when, in spite of her long working hours, she learned welding as a trade during World War II to build ships for the Pullman Standard Company. He also learned the importance of personal responsibility and self-reliance; in spite of her family’s poverty, Gerald’s mother never asked for help and paid for everything. The children contributed their earnings from their jobs over the years to their mother until there was enough to buy a house. Upon buying it, his mother did most of the remodeling herself.

Through the Hillsdale Tradition Award program, Hillsdale students with demonstrated financial need can receive a half-tuition scholarship, but they must work eight hours a week, volunteer in the community, and maintain a 3.0 grade-point average. Earlier this year, Gerald established an endowed scholarship to help such students receive a Hillsdale education. To further impress upon recipients the value of hard work and personal responsibility, each scholarship recipient will receive and read a biography Gerald wrote about his mother. He took advantage of the recent tax-free IRA rollover legislation to designate money toward this scholarship.

The Hillsdale College motto, Virtus Tentamine Gaudet, translates to “strength rejoices in the challenge.” The same can be said of Gerald's mother. Thanks to the generosity of Gerald, his scholarship recipients will gain valuable insights not only into his family’s history, but also about what it means to be a good citizen, to be a good family man or woman, and ultimately, to live a good life.