Alumni Work Together to Make Their 50th Reunion Special
By Mark Tarnacki
After talking it over with Rit DiVenere '67, then associate vice president for alumni relations and development, each chose an option best suited to his family's present financial and life situation.
Al and his wife, Phyllis, chose to include a substantial bequest to Saint Michael's in Al's will, while Jack and his wife, Eileen, named the College a major beneficiary of Jack's retirement plan. Both couples' generous gifts counted toward the total amount and participation rate for their 50th Reunion Class Gift.
Working the phones to network and raise funds was a big part of Al and Jack's efforts too.
"What I basically did was send a letter out to every classmate and indicated that some of our classmates had decided to give significant gifts, either as cash, securities, bequests or other planned gifts," Al said. "And we made sure they knew that it would be counted."
Regarding his will bequest decision Al says, "Frankly, it's the one that impacts me least now but has the potential of leaving Saint Michael's a significant gift."
A highly successful chemist and businessman through a long career at Eastman Kodak, Cornell and the University of Rochester, Al was chairman of the class's reunion gift at 35 years, when a matching gift incentive from Pete Taylor helped achieve a lofty $100,000 goal. Still, Al wanted this year's class gift to be the biggest ever, and the best approach seemed to be through charitable trusts and other planned-giving vehicles, he said.
Jack is retired from IBM and Lockheed Martin Corp. after serving five years in the Air Force. He met Eileen while in college when she was a Trinity student. With eight children, he and Eileen never had time to be too involved until the 45th reunion, but they're making up for it now.
"My wife and I were brought up to think gifts to religion were important, and we've contributed to our church and other organizations as much as we could at the time, so we have that culture," he says. "I always felt good about Saint Michael's, so I gave money, and as I got older and could afford to, I started to give more. We have been reasonably successful, and I was thinking, Why do I feel the way I do?"
He thought about professors who had a big impact on his life such as his economics mentor Arnold Gianelli, who taught him to think critically, and about how important Air Force ROTC was in his and other classmates' early careers. He also thought about the positive experiences of his grandson, Dillon White'12, who graduates this year and "loves it" at Saint Michael's, and a granddaughter who also attended.
Jack worked with Dick Henneberry to prepare a DVD about the time their class was at SMC to remind everyone of the good times they had in the late '50s. Along with Dick, Al Brault and Ron LeFleur, Jack spent two days in the Saint Mike's library archives pulling together articles, pictures and other memorabilia for the DVD.
"We discovered a movie of the Saint Mike's basketball team that went to Evansville for the national championship," he says. "Boy, did that bring back memories."
Thanks to the efforts of this group, the Class of 1959 presented President Jack Neuhauser with a gift of $197,729 in honor of their 50th Reunion.
To learn more about how you can support St. Michael's, click here.http://www.gftpln.org/Home.do?orgId=659
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