Personal Giving Stories
Giving Keeps Centenarian Young at Heart
This fall, Dorothy Lorene Osborn will celebrate her 100th birthday, making her UIS' youngest-at-heart donor.
Ironically, health problems delayed her start at nursing school in Jacksonville, Ill., but when she graduated in 1937, she had never missed a day of classes.
Lorene retired from nursing in the early '80s and decided to get a master's degree in gerontology. "I worked with so many people," she says, "each different from the next. I wanted to learn more about how to care for each person in the best way possible, and the gerontology degree sounded good."
To get her master's, she would first need her bachelor's degree. Lorene had taken courses at MacMurray College, Springfield College of Illinois and Lincoln Land Community College. After discovering that UIS (then Sangamon State) would accept her many different credits, she finished up her degree at UIS in Child, Family and Community in 1993 at age 83. "The younger people were so nice to me," she says. "I remember them saying, 'I'm saving my seat for Lorene' and 'Lorene can have my notes.' "
She took two years of chemistry while at Lincoln Land, including organic chemistry. One day while working on her own in the lab, she made a mistake. "The explosion," she says, "was beautiful, the most beautiful colors I've ever seen. No one was hurt, but after that they didn't let me work on my own anymore."
Macular degeneration made it hard for Lorene to take notes and read her materials, but like everything she took that in stride. "When I couldn't read something on a test, I just walked up to the teacher and had him tell me what it said."
While at UIS, Lorene wrote a paper on Alzheimer's disease for one of her classes. Her professor declared it to be "as good as any thesis," and gerontology professor Ros Robbert asked for a copy to keep. Unfortunately, her eye problems kept her from pursuing the master's in gerontology.
When it came time to decide what her gift to UIS would be, Lorene thought back to that paper and to her work in nursing homes. She decided to create a fund to help UIS students do scientific research that relates to health. She says, "There are so many diseases like Alzheimer's that scientists don't know the cause, so I hope my gift will help students move forward in research related to Alzheimer's and other diseases."
Lorene's gift is in the form of a charitable gift annuity (CGA), which resulted in significant tax savings and guaranteed lifetime income of over 9 percent annually. Health problems may have delayed her education, but thanks to her CGA, Lorene is helping others overcome their health problems as well.
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