Personal Giving Stories


Case in Point: Eichelberger Estate Will Benefit 4-H and Illinois Athletics

Photo of Lila Jeanne Eichelberger.Lila Jeanne Eichelberger (BS '49, MS '52), more affectionately known as "Shorty," has a heart for young people that is ten times larger than her 5-foot stature; and that heart is reflected in a relationship with the University of Illinois that spans more than 80 years and includes many gifts - including through her estate plan.

Lila Jeanne's love affair with the University began as a 5-year-old, accompanying her mother to meetings of 4-H - today's largest youth organization that was founded by the Cooperative Extension System of land-grant universities. The organization shaped her future career choices and led her to the U of I, where she received two degrees and an Advanced Certificate. She then taught home economics for 40 years, leading many student groups. She also met and married the late Paul Eichelberger.

"Paul was the love of my life; we shared so many interests - one key one being Fighting Illini sports," she says. "Neither of us would be the person we became if it had not been for sports, 4-H or the University of Illinois."

In the 1960s they began making annual gifts to 4-H and to the I-Fund to support athletics. They helped establish the Illini softball program, and four years after Paul's death in 1997, Lila Jeanne threw out the opening pitch at the dedication of Eichelberger Field. This year commemorates her 50th consecutive year of giving to the University, and Illinois Athletics and Illinois 4-H will benefit in the future from an endowment created through their estate.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I bleed Illini orange and blue and 4-H green," Lila Jeanne says. "It is an honor to have Paul's and my legacy live on through a gift from our estate. If we are remembered for just one thing, I hope it will be a commitment to the development of the next generation of young people."


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.



© Pentera, Inc. Planned giving content. All rights reserved.