Verne Churchill '54
When an unexpected appreciation of company stock value provided Verne Churchill '54 with a large windfall in 2000, he faced having to pay a large capital gains tax on the increase.
Churchill, of Northbrook, Illinois, talked with his attorney and his financial planner and made a deferred commitment to Ripon College with the funds through a Charitable Remainder Unitrust. This trust provided a tax shelter for the amount of the appreciation. He receives income from the trust every year, and when the trust terminates at the end of Verne's life, the remainder of the funds in the trust will be distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust, Ripon College included.
"The income is taxable money, but doing it this way avoided half a million dollars in capital gains tax," he says. "I could designate whom the recipients would be when the trust is paid out. The largest recipient of the money is Ripon College, with nominal amounts going to charities specified by my children and grandchildren."
Churchill grew up in Chicago but felt he would be more comfortable going to a smaller school rather than a large university. A coworker of his mother was a graduate of Ripon College and suggested he check it out.
He was impressed with how much Ripon had to offer. Verne majored in economics, but struggled for a time. "The intimacy of the Ripon community was something that was quite foreign to me, coming from Chicago," he says. "The low-keyness of it was effective and rewarding."
"Academically, I didn't know how poorly I was prepared to experience college. The first lecture from Dr. Edwin Webster referred to countries, places and events I had never heard of. I was so thunderstruck by the whole experience. I got through it all, but I remember being quite aware how much attention I would have to devote to catch up with other people there."
He says he values Ripon because it was life-changing for him. "When I arrived at Ripon in 1950, I was not a well-achieving young man," he says. "I was pretty immature. Ripon is the place where I did mature and, more importantly, I found the love of my life, my first wife, Gloria Philippi '53."
He has 15-20 friends from his college days "who have remained very, very close for many decades," he says. "We've been coming back to Ripon every year. We gather in Green Lake once a year and at the College for the key occasions. Many of the people I first met at Ripon are my dearest friends and we see each other socially."
Verne says places like Ripon College that offer a good liberal arts education are good for society. "There's no way to predict which things you learn at college will serve you later. I'm convinced a liberal arts education is something I wish more people had experienced. I endorse the notion that a liberal education is the first stage in where life is going to take you," he says.
"I feel a very long and abiding love for the College, and in some small way any contributions I can make to sustaining Ripon's excellence would be a well-placed investment. Thank you to Ripon for allowing me to find myself and the woman I was married to for 47 years, and engendering in me a love for an entire community."