Personal Giving Stories
"When I was accepted by the U of I law school, I was a hardworking veteran of the U.S. Navy and a recently married product of a broken home with little money. I can empathize with the need for an earned opportunity made available on an individual basis. The College of Law gave me that opportunity." That is how Merrill Thompson explained the initial motivation for the gift that will ultimately fund the Merrill S. and Emma L. Thompson Endowment, which will support the College of Law at Urbana-Champaign.
Thompson says that it was Emma who offered the idea of providing support that would help secure the same educational opportunity to others as he was provided in 1954. She said, Thompson recalls, "You owe a lot to your law school." He adds, "I couldn’t have agreed with her more, and the gift annuity arrangement really fell into place with my retirement planning." When the couple received the full endorsement of their sons, it was settled.
The gift took the form of the stock in Thompson’s law practice. The financial outcomes are compelling and include a very attractive level of lifetime income for the couple, capital-gain tax advantages, current income-tax savings, and potential estate-tax savings. Last but not least, of course, is that after they are gone the College will benefit in perpetuity from the Thompson Endowment for Law.
The couple’s overarching goal for the gift is to support access to an affordable, highquality law school for citizens of Illinois. "First and foremost, I think our school should remain uniquely accessible to otherwise eligible citizens of the state for which it is named," Thompson explains. "It should provide a good-quality education, teaching the laws that make our state and country one consisting of free people entitled to respect for private property," he adds.
"In my opinion, this is the way a state-supported university should work. I am convinced that access to deserving citizens of Illinois is at least as important as the school’s rankings," Thompson concludes.
The University of Illinois is deeply grateful to these special friends for their outstanding commitment to and support of the UIUC College of Law.
The U of I Foundation gift planning staff is pleased to answer your questions and offer assistance at any time. Please contact the Foundation to learn more.
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