Personal Giving Stories



Cottingham-lg.jpgBob Cottingham’s love of gardening and the outdoors led him to the agriculture program at the University of Illinois—and his successful career due to that education has led him to give back through the annual fund and through a charitable gift annuity.

A loyal annual fund supporter since 1986, Bob (B.S. ’65, Ed.M. ’67) more recently discovered through this Generations newsletter that he could make a much larger gift that would return income for the rest of his life.

“Not being a rich man, but still wanting to help, I found the U of I gift annuity to be a great way to lower my tax bill and increase the income from my savings,” explains Bob. When he passes away, the proceeds from his gift annuity will endow the Robert D. Cottingham Scholarship Fund, which will help students studying ag education and/or crop sciences.

“Having spent my entire career teaching and working in the area of turf grass and horticulture management, this scholarship allows me to help students who might follow a similar path,” Bob says. “I can only hope they have as satisfying a life and career as I have—and it was all made possible by my U of I education.”

Bob grew up in the unincorporated wilds of Cook County outside La Grange, Ill. As a young boy he spent much of his time hunting for wild strawberries and asparagus. When it came time to consider college, Bob says, “If you were interested in agriculture, there was—and still is—only one place to go: the University of Illinois.” In the fall of 1961 he headed south to the Urbana-Champaign campus.

His father was a mechanic and his mother worked for the phone company, and Bob was the first in his family to attend college. Expenses were a challenge and he had no scholarship or other financial aid, so Bob held various jobs on campus, including as a switchboard operator, maintenance worker and working summers with the Soil Conservation Service.

He was even able to work with Prof. Elbert Jaycox doing research in the field of apiculture (beekeeping). After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Bob went on to graduate school and worked under Prof. Thomas Phipps on Project REDY—Rural Education for Disadvantaged Youth.

“The feeling of true caring and support from administration, faculty and staff made such a difference while I was there,” Bob says. “Not only my education, but my overall experience at the U of I is the reason I was able to have any measure of success.”

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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