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Q&A: Grateful Alum Gives Back to Truman Students

Dr. Ronald Thomas '65 and Mrs. Ann Thomas

Dr. Ronald Thomas and his wife, Ann Thomas

More than 150 of Truman State University’s most generous alumni and friends have arranged an estate or planned gift in support of Truman and have become members of the University’s legacy society—the Joseph Baldwin Society.

Dr. Ronald Thomas ’65 and Mrs. Ann Thomas of Vestavia, Alabama, documented their planned gift after creating the Dr. Ronald E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship with a cash gift to the Truman State University Foundation. This scholarship is now providing meaningful annual support for deserving Truman students.

Ron reflects on his career and his decision to support Truman both today and in the future through charitable giving.

Q: When you graduated from Northeast Missouri State University more than 50 years ago, what were your goals?
A: To get a teaching job, to try to make a difference in the lives of my students and to enjoy life. Since then, much has changed—including Northeast, now Truman State University. However, in all this time, some things have stayed the same.

Q: As an educator, what did you observe that may surprise those who did not choose a career in education?
A: During the early years of my professional career as a teacher, I noticed high school and college students struggling. They wanted to attend college to have a better life, but they were in dire need of academic, financial and personal support, and did not know how to get the help they needed. As I advanced in my career as a counselor and finally as an administrator, the number of students in this or similar situations continued to grow. Some students wondered how to pay for college, and still others had no idea how to enroll in college.

As I reflected on my own experiences at Truman, I remembered experiencing some of the same challenges as these students. While I will always be grateful for the education I received at Kirksville, I am most thankful to the faculty and staff that helped connect me with college and community resources to help me succeed.

Q: Why did you choose to support Truman with annual charitable contributions?
A: Just as Truman made an investment in me, I wanted to make an investment in the students at Truman. Today, giving financial support to help Truman students is an ongoing part of the Thomas family yearly financial planning. Several years ago, my wife, Ann, and I decided to expand our giving by creating a scholarship endowment to help needy students. What a delight it has been for us to follow up with our student and to send special gifts and support letters to her throughout the year.

Q: You and Ann have also documented a planned gift by naming the Truman State University Foundation as a beneficiary of retirement plan assets. Why did you choose to take this additional step and arrange for Truman to receive an estate gift?
A: On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I toured the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and found inscriptions for two of my college friends who gave their lives for our country. As I read their names, I reflected on our good times together. I had little awareness of how my college experience would shape my beliefs and actions during my life, and what awaited us. It was bittersweet, but it was also a moment when I felt called to do even more to help the students at Truman by creating another planned gift to help students. It is my intent to create an ongoing, short-term grant program for students who have one-time, emergency financial needs.

Q: As a Truman alumnus, why do you think it is important to give to your alma mater?
A: Investing in the students at Truman is our way to say thank you. More importantly, it helps the students who need and deserve financial assistance. If we want our students to become active participants and contributors to the Truman Giving and Support Network, all of the graduates need to demonstrate their support by making an investment in the future of Truman students.

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If you want to make an impact on students at Truman with a planned gift, please contact Marie Murphree at 660-785-4124 or to get started.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Truman State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Truman State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Kirksville, Missouri, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Truman or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Truman as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Truman as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Truman where you agree to make a gift to Truman and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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