A Lifetime of Good Decisions
For J. Brooke Gardiner '51, the road to Haverford was as simple as crossing the street. As his graduation from the Haverford School approached, someone there suggested he consider applying to Haverford College, so he did. "Back then you didn't think about it much. But I was local and I could get on my bicycle and get there." This lightly-made decision turned into an educational experience Gardiner highly values and fondly remembers.
"I enjoyed all my classes," he says. "I liked the fact that it was a broad education rather than just a narrow one." He took classes in chemistry (his major) as well as Shakespeare, art history and, at Bryn Mawr College, geology. He also found time to run on the track team despite being "too darn busy with labs and classes and reading." Gardiner even had the opportunity as a student to teach for a semester when the College's glass blowing instructor took a medical leave of absence.
When he was younger, Gardiner had taught himself to make glass sculptures and figurines in the basement of his parents' house using a torch and small air compressor from Sears Roebuck. His father collected small glass animals and one day Gardiner decided to make some for him—a decision that resulted in a lifelong passion for the craft of glass sculpture and, years later, stone sculpture as well.
He found that his glass blowing skills also had practical applications. As a graduate student in chemistry at the University of North Carolina, he made his own lab equipment. UNC was also the place where Gardiner met his wife, Beth. "I started making small art objects to convince her that I was a decent guy," he recalls. That turned out to be another fortuitous decision, as he and Beth married and started a family.
After graduate school the couple settled in New Jersey when Gardiner accepted a position at Exxon (now Exxon Mobil). He learned that the company would match charitable gifts to colleges on a 3:1 basis and has been making regular gifts to Haverford's Annual Fund ever since. His loyal support has earned him membership in the College's 1833 Society.
Taking His Giving to the Next Level
In 1985, Gardiner's mother passed away, leaving him a number of highly appreciated stocks. "I was doing fairly well at Exxon," he says, "so I didn't really feel I needed the money at the time." Gardiner then had to decide what to do with it: sell the stock and pay a sizeable capital gains tax or hold the shares. He decided to hold on, and a short time later he attended a planned giving workshop at Haverford where he learned about the ease and benefits of a charitable gift annuity.
All Gardiner had to do was make a gift to Haverford and, in return, he and Beth would receive fixed lifetime payments at a rate based on their ages. The remainder would be transferred to the College. "The idea of giving something to Haverford and benefitting them, as well as the idea of an annuity that would give back to us seemed like a great idea," he says.
In addition to eliminating capital gains, there was a second tax benefit. "It gave me an instant income tax deduction in the year I gave it. So it was a confluence of all those things together that made it so appealing. It was a good thing to do." And so the decision was made. Since then, Gardiner has made additional gifts to increase the payments he and Beth receive as well as the remainder that will go to Haverford.
Today, Gardiner returns to campus periodically. Most recently, he attended his 60th reunion. When asked if he would recommend a charitable gift annuity to a classmate, he replied, "Well, I had a lot of things that made it good for me. So I'd try to see what kind of things they had that would make it make sense for them, such as low cost basis stock or a need for continuing income or a getting tax deduction right off the bat. And there are other plans Haverford has that would be equally attractive, such as giving through a bequest. I was always impressed by astronomy professor Louis Green who left $5 million to Haverford in his will." He continued, "But for me it's really about giving back. I got a lot from Haverford in a lot of ways, and I'm only too happy to give back. It's an easy decision."
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Contact Olga Briker at 610-795-6079 or email@example.com if you are interested in taking your support to the next level.