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Mary Lou Spindt '40

Mary Lou Spindt '40

Mary Lou Spink Spindt '40 of Allison Park, Pennsylvania, wanted to do more to support Ripon College, but she didn't want to alter the estate plan already carefully set up by herself and her husband, Roderick Sidney Spindt '41, who passed in 2003.

They already had in place a life insurance policy that would benefit their two daughters, and it had grown over the years, Spindt says. It was a simple adjustment to add Ripon College as a partial beneficiary of the policy and still provide for her daughters.

"It was a very easy process, primarily done by telephone and completing a form through the mail," she adds. Those funds eventually will be used to establish the Roderick '41 and Mary Lou '40 Spindt Scholarship, to provide financial support the students at Ripon College."

Mary Lou was born in Indiana, went to school in Chicago and completed two years of junior college in there before coming to Ripon College. Roderick was from Waupaca, Wisconsin.

"Ripon advertised pretty widely through the Chicago area," she says. "I chose Ripon because they offered me a job in the library that would pay my tuition. My husband had a job in the chemistry lab that paid his tuition. Without that, I don't think either of us could have gone to college."

She studied English and education at Ripon with the intention of becoming an English teacher, but her experience at the library led her in a new direction.

"The Carnegie library in Ripon traditionally hired a senior to assist the librarian, and during the time that I was that senior assistant, the librarian resigned. I was responsible for keeping the library open during its usual hours. That made it a very busy schedule for me, between keeping the library open and my classwork at the college."

After graduation, she received a scholarship through her congressman to study for a degree in library science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison - "After all, I had all that good library experience at Ripon!" she says.

She worked for the high school from which she had graduated for three years until Roderick Spindt finished his master's degree in chemistry from UW-Madison. They married and moved to Pittsburgh during the World War II years, where Roderick Spindt took a job with Gulf Research and eventually received a PhD in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

"Librarians were in short supply, apparently," Spindt says with a laugh. "The Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh found me, and I worked in their business branch for two years. The last 30 years, I have volunteered at Carnegie Library's Pennsylvania Room with the local genealogy society."

At the age of 96, she still is a volunteer. "I enjoy being in the library," she says.

The liberal arts education she gained at Ripon has served her well, Spindt says. "In the library, you are asked questions in many fields. I think the liberal arts education opened doorways. I may have not been an expert in any of those fields, but I was aware enough of many things in many fields that enabled me to successfully field those questions."

Supporting Ripon College is something for which she feels responsible. "There's certainly no lack of need today. If we don't support the College financially, what's the next generation going to do? There are going to be kids coming up like we were without enough funds."

She says the education and skills that both she and her husband gained at Ripon College allowed them to receive our jobs, mine in the libraries and Roderick's in chemical research. "Your choices in life depend upon your opportunities and your preparation," she says. "The choices that both my husband and I made along the way have led us to the point that I am with this ample insurance policy and now a way to share it. If we had made other choices, this might never have happened."

"There is usually a provision, no matter how your estate is set up, for sharing. Unless you can share and pass on some of the advantages that you have had, I don't think there's much purpose left to having an estate."


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