Skip to Content

Gift Planning

Peter Rockwell '58, P'82 Seals His Commitment to Haverford in Stone

The Climbing Stone on campus with Leeds Hall in the background

The Climbing Stone at dusk. To the left is Leeds Hall.


The Climbing Stone, created on campus and gifted to Haverford in 1990, sits beside Magill Library. “I like to do sculpture for people to climb on,” Peter Rockwell ’58, P’82 asserts. Why? He cannot say exactly. “I just do. It’s sort of fun.”

For a man who has spent his entire career working with fixed objects, Peter has been able to imbue them with a great sense of movement, whether they are figures of dancers, or whimsical monsters on which to climb. As a child, Peter was fascinated by acrobats at the circus; and when he was a freshman at Haverford he competed as a fencer. Ironically, that love of play and movement inadvertently influenced his career as a sculptor. During the second semester of his first year, Peter was stabbed in the chest during a fencing competition against Princeton. After being rushed to nearby Bryn Mawr Hospital, he was examined by Dr. John Bernard Flick (coincidentally a Haverford graduate himself, from the Class of 1939). Flick had, very fortuitously, been reading the latest studies on treating knife wounds and knew it was best not to operate in this case. His decision saved Peter’s life.

Upon returning to campus, Peter considered alternative activities to fencing. One of his favorite courses was in Medieval history. But, intrigued by sculpting because of a course his mother, Mary Rockwell, had taken back home in Lenox, MA, he enrolled in an independent study with art professor J. Wallace Kelly. In his senior year he received credit for a projectbased course, making sculpture—the first time art had been more than an extracurricular activity at the College in decades.

People climbing on The Climbing stone

Left to right: Geoffrey, Thea, and Peter at The Climbing Stone during the weekend of Thea’s Commencement from Haverford in 2012.

The youngest of three children of famed illustrator Norman Rockwell, and with one brother a writer and the other an artist, Peter was determined to set a different path for himself. He majored in English and intended to become a teacher. Instead, he fell in love with sculpture. After graduating from Haverford, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia to continue his artistic studies. Following Kelly’s belief that stone should be carved directly (rather than from a copy made in another medium), Peter became skilled in the technique.

A 1961 fellowship from PAFA gave Peter the opportunity to study in Rome. By then he was married to high school sweetheart Cynthia (Cinny) Ide—a classmate of his from The Putney School near his family’s home in Arlington, VT—and had a toddler, Geoffrey. The young family set off for a sixmonth stay in Italy. They never left.

Over time the family grew to total six, with another son, Tom, and twins, Mary and John. Peter honed his sculpting techniques working mostly with bronze and marble, teaching, guiding tours of Rome, and exhibiting his work. Living and working among some of the world’s oldest sculpture, he became an expert in historical stone carving techniques—expertise that would lead to the 1993 publication of his book, The Art of Stoneworking: A Reference Guide, a seminal text on the subject.

Before long, it was time for eldest son Geoffrey to consider colleges. Living abroad, he found that Haverford was rare among U.S. colleges at the time for its receptivity and accessibility to international students. Geoffrey graduated from the College in 1982 with a degree in philosophy, but the Haverford-Rockwell legacy did not end there.

In 1990, Peter was invited to campus for a semester-long visiting professorship in sculpture. There were some changes since his own time as a student, including the move to co-education and awarding credit for courses in the arts. Nine students enrolled in the semester-long course, a requirement for which was to create a sculpture for the campus. “When I taught [at Haverford], I was very impressed with the quality of the students. I’ve taught for several college programs [in Italy], and the students at Haverford really impressed me,” he remembered. He and the students spent months creating The Climbing Stone, reducing a three-ton block of Indiana limestone to a tangle of happy-looking monsters, with footholds and passageways for crawling.

The design, in part, maybe traced to Cinny and her experience at Haverford College. When Peter was an undergraduate, Cinny taught nearby at Haverford Friends School and would bring her students to the College campus to play on the osage orange tree on the side of Magill Library known as The Climbing Tree. Though the tree fell many years ago, according to the College’s Arboretum website, “it has continued to grow in its reclining state and has become a living sculpture.” The tree that Cinny introduced to her students years earlier served as Peter’s inspiration for The Climbing Stone, and to this day children from the community—and more than a few Haverford students—enjoy this fixture on campus. The Climbing Stone is dedicated to the memory of J. Wallace Kelly.

One student in particular has had a very special connection to The Climbing Stone. Alethea (Thea) Rockwell, Geoffrey’s daughter, majored in history of art at Bryn Mawr College and graduated from Haverford in 2012. Following Thea’s graduation, the Rockwells decided to make an enduring commitment to Haverford by establishing a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT). Peter and Cinny felt gratitude toward Haverford and shared a strong interest in supporting it for the future.

Working with Director of Gift Planning Steve Kavanaugh, and in consultation with their financial advisor, the Rockwells established a CRUT designed to pay them a percentage of the assets in the trust for life, after which the remainder will become a permanent part of Haverford’s endowment, benefiting arts at the College in perpetuity—much like The Climbing Stone. “It was a very simple thing to do,” Peter recalled of the process. “Three generations went here,” he said, “and we all enjoyed it. So I think it’s a good place to support. My wife felt that way too.” In a 2012 email to Kavanaugh, Cinny wrote, “Haverford’s generosity and support to both Geoffrey and Thea played a significant role in our decision to make this gift.” Cinny passed away in 2013.

If you ask Peter why he applied to Haverford, he will tell you that he liked that the application did not require an autobiography. “I couldn’t think of anything interesting I’d ever done in my life,” he recalls humbly. It is a claim he no longer can make.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

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

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

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.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

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 potential 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 may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. 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.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Haverford as a lump sum.

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.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address