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Gift Planning

Merlin Packard '50 Gives Back to Haverford

donor-merlin-packard.jpg

Merlin Packard '50 first set foot on the Haverford College campus on the first day of his freshman year. "I packed a suitcase and took a train from Boston to the Paoli local," he remembers. He'd applied on the advice of the dean of students at Andover who thought Merlin would like the school and on that of his friend William Lee '46, who'd been a classmate of Merlin's at Andover before Haverford.

Merlin settled into campus life without difficulty and joined The Glee Club, which "meant a lot" to him. Junior and senior year, he lived in "a four-man suite in 5th Entry" even though it had been designed for three. "The College got larger after [World War II], so the dorms were quite full," he explains. The Quaker traditions he was exposed to on campus had an effect on him too. Though raised Episcopalian (his father was a pastor), his maternal great-grandfather was originally a birthright Quaker, and Merlin felt that peace witness was a strong influence. With the War not far in the past, he found himself moving toward pacifism.

In the academic sphere, Merlin came to admire English professor William Lunt, who he says, "could be a little intimidating, but he was a delightful man and devoted to his students." Merlin also studied foreign languages at Haverford, including Russian, Greek, and German, which was his favorite. He fondly remembers Harry Pfund and recalls, "Having a chance to study German poetry was a great treat for me." Developing his expertise in German literature, culture, and language over four years would come to be an important influence in his early career. Upon graduating, he served in the federal government in Washington, D.C. and was eventually stationed in Munich for seven years.

But he came to realize the work did not really suit him ("I didn't want to be a 40-year government man"), and upon returning to the U.S., he settled in New York City. There, he took graduate courses at Columbia in Russian as well as Byzantine and Medieval Studies. But, he says, "Although I enjoyed living in New York very much, I had the feeling it wasn't the place where I wanted to grow old." After eight years in Manhattan, he was presented with an opportunity to return to Washington, and he took it. He spent the rest of his career in Georgetown as the librarian at Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard University-administered research library collection specializing in Byzantine, garden and landscape, and pre-Columbian studies.

No stranger to rare books, Merlin personally acquired a number of unique volumes that interested him. Then, in fall 2010, Merlin read a story in Haverford magazine about Magill Library's Special Collections. The article inspired him to donate nearly a dozen bibliographic rarities of his own—dating from the 15th to 20th centuries—to the College. The oldest of the volumes, a 1497 theological text by Lactantius, is an incunable (printed between 1450 and 1500, soon after movable type was invented) and especially rare. Among his other contributions was a copy of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, a rare and historically significant set. Now, students can use Merlin's books in their research for the Senior Thesis (not required during his tenure at the College) and other academic papers. "I liked that the students would have real things to look at," he says of these gifts. Merlin has been generous to Haverford in other ways as well. For fifteen years he served as a member of the Corporation, and in addition to making Haverford a beneficiary in his will, he established a charitable gift annuity (CGA) in 2001.

A CGA is a simple gift option that allows a Haverford alumnus/a, parent, or friend to make a tax-deductible contribution to the College and receive quarterly annuity payments for life. The remaining principal becomes a deferred gift to Haverford. "The CGA was a way that I could give something that I could afford. At the time I couldn't have just given away the money, but getting some income from my gift made it possible." In addition, Merlin regularly contributes to the College's Annual Fund. "The CGA was an affordable way to make a gift of assets. The Annual Fund is something you do out of your regular income," Merlin explains of his ability to do both.

While fine-tuning the details of the CGA with Hogie Hansen, vice president for institutional advancement at the time, Merlin considered having the remainder of the gift support buildings and grounds, but he ultimately decided to leave it unrestricted. "I understand the need for flexibility. You can't tell what the situation is going to be 25 years from now." There is no doubt for Merlin, though, that Haverford will always be worth supporting. "The Quaker influence is so important, and the Honor Code is a very good thing."

Today, Merlin enjoys his retirement in the nation's capital, reading as much as ever (including, not too long ago, Rilke in the original German). He used to return to Dumbarton Oaks for their annual symposium, where he would often see Walter Kaegi '59, who conducted research there when Merlin still worked as librarian.

He has been in touch with David Herman '50 as well, thanks to Olga Briker in Haverford's Office of Gift Planning, who helped reconnect the two classmates. He's also returned to Haverford for reunions and other events, and has enjoyed walking around the campus.

"Most of us owe a great deal to people who have gone before us—or with us—who have done a great deal," he says of his motivation for making Haverford one of his principal charitable priorities. "It seems to me that one has a moral obligation, to the extent that one can, to support the institutions that one believes in and has found helpful. Haverford is one of the best colleges you can attend.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Haverford College a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Haverford College, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

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A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Haverford or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

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Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Haverford as a lump sum.

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A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Haverford where you agree to make a gift to Haverford and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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