Also In This Issue

The Legacy

Home on the Range

By Ashley Wagner '18

Office of Gift Planning Student Worker
Kay and Charles Pence '51 are giving back to Texas A&M through proceeds from the sale of their family ranch. 

When asked what inspired Kay and Charles “Charlie” Pence ’51 to give back to Texas A&M University, they answered without a hint of hesitation: “Because it’s the best university around.”

The couple are no strangers to supporting Texas A&M. Their extensive giving record includes more than $2 million in support of students and programs, with more than 30 scholarships benefiting the Corps of Cadets. Most recently, the Pences committed a unique planned gift in the form of a retained life estate.

After their lifetimes, proceeds from the sale of their family ranch in Comfort, Texas, will support Texas A&M areas that reflect Kay’s love for animals and Charlie’s appreciation for the Corps. A portion of their gift will create Corps 21 Scholarships, which are awarded to cadets who exhibit high academic and leadership standards. “The Corps has seen so much improvement and growth in the past few years, and we want the organization to keep thriving,” said Charlie, who served in the U.S. Army after graduation. “Today’s cadets have an incredible academic record. And with the Corps’ growing numbers, there’s an increased need for financial assistance.”

In addition to creating a scholarship endowment for veterinary students, their gift will also support programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. One such program is The Courtney Grimshaw Equine Therapeutic Program, or Courtney Cares, which is a premier Texas A&M equine therapy program. The organization offers free horseback riding therapy sessions to veterans and children and adults with physical or cognitive disabilities. Additionally, their gift will provide assistance to help cover the cost of treatment for veterans’ service and military animals at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

three steps to Create a Retained Life Estate

The technique the Pences used to make their gift is especially useful to those who are considering gifts of property to support Texas A&M. A retained life estate gift results in a significant charitable income tax deduction. “The deduction can be used in the year of the gift and five years into the future,” said Glenn Pittsford ’72, vice president for gift planning at the Texas A&M Foundation.

There are three simple steps to create a retained life estate gift:

  1. An individual transfers ownership of their home, farm or ranch to the Texas A&M Foundation. The deed includes a provision that gives the homeowner the right to retain use of the property for the rest of his or her life.
  2. The individual and the Foundation sign a maintenance, insurance and taxes agreement to ensure that the homeowner will keep the property in good condition, maintain property insurance and pay property taxes.
  3. When the owners of the life estate pass away, the Foundation sells the property. Proceeds will benefit Texas A&M students, faculty, colleges or programs as you wish.

Kay and Charlie emphasized their admiration for the veterinary college, noting its impact on students, the local community and the state through initiatives like Courtney Cares. They’ve also been impressed with the college’s emergency response efforts following hurricanes Rita, Ike and Harvey. “When people think of a veterinary school, they usually think of hospitals,” Kay said. “But ours is so much more than that.”

The remaining portion of the couple’s gift will benefit the Singing Cadets, Texas A&M’s premier men’s chorus. Since its roots as an on-campus glee club in 1893, the group has traveled throughout Texas, the United States and overseas to spread the spirit, sound and tradition of Texas A&M. “Their concerts reach thousands of people who have no other contact with the university,” Kay added. “They represent our Aggie family everywhere they go.”

Making a retained life estate gift is simple: An individual gifts their property by deeding it to the Foundation while retaining the life estate, which the Foundation sells after his or her lifetime. Proceeds benefit areas of the donor’s choosing at Texas A&M. The gift provides a significant and immediate tax deduction while allowing property owners to maintain lifetime use of their treasured ranch or home.

“We realized we could donate our ranch, but still enjoy the beauty of it,” Charlie said. “The option was so flexible: It gives us a home and an opportunity to designate our funds to programs we’re passionate about, while letting Texas A&M know that we are committed to giving back.”  

After a 27-year career in executive positions with ExxonMobil, Charlie retired in 1982. Today, he keeps busy acting as chairman of SiEnvironmental, which provides gas and sewer services to residents in the greater Houston area. Kay served for 35 years in the trust and financial services industry and now tends to a 10-acre vineyard she planted four years ago.

“We’re very humbled to support this university we love so much,” Kay said. “There’s really nothing truer than the popular statement, ‘From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.’” 

To learn more about making a planned gift that can benefit you, your family and the university, contact Glenn Pittsford '72 (below).