Estate Giving Creates Memorable Legacy
When Wilfred Swartz of Los Angeles died at age 87, he left a legacy to the University of Detroit Mercy in the form of a large estate gift.
"His bequest was well thought out," says Mark Grzybowski, Director of Gift Planning, who learned of Swartz's intentions when the retired engineer called his office some 65 years after he had been a student on campus.
Swartz attended U of D for three years (1939 and early 1940s), where he studied chemical engineering. He left the University during World War II to serve in the Army Air Force, and later completed his degree elsewhere. In the early 1950s, he moved to California and had a successful career as a sales and research engineer.
Swartz's education by the Jesuits and their influence on living a value-driven life shaped his world, he told Grzybowski. "He said that it had a tempering influence on his life.' Otherwise, he was considering a life of profligacy," Grzybowski says, reading a note that Swartz left with his estate.
He developed an almost father-son relationship with Swartz after his first call in 2007. While most of the relationship was by phone or mail, it was a good experience for both. Swartz had been married three times but had no children of his own and his wives were deceased. Prior to Swartz's death in June 2010, he told the mortuary director to put Grzybowski in charge of the funeral proceedings. He lined up a Jesuit priest to say prayers at the grave site in Riverside, California.
"The University meant a lot to him and set him on his course," Grzybowski says. "In return for the Jesuits' provident teachings, he wanted to make a major financial gift to help other students succeed."
Through planned giving, the University often receives gifts from people who have been influenced by UDM, yet choose not to make their bequest known until later. While it's a pleasant surprise to receive such generous gifts, being informed of the gift allows UDM to formally recognize the individual (if desired) and work with the donor to ensure the donor's legacy is fulfilled.
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