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Planned gifts support student scholarships

October 08, 2001

Rachel Thayer, Sybil Simons and George Ward ’51 share one thing in common—a desire to provide a quality liberal arts education to deserving students at Lewis & Clark.

Thayer establishes charitable trust

“Rachel Thayer was a quiet, effective lady—a very bright gal,” remembers John Anderson, professor emeritus of religious studies.

Thayer served as the College’s assistant librarian for close to 30 years, from the late 1940s to the mid 1970s. Last year, at the age of 97, she died. Her late husband, Lewis Thayer, was a professor of chemistry, department cochair, dean of the faculty and vice president of academic affairs. Three of the couple’s four sons graduated from Lewis & Clark, and the College named the Thayer Rooms in Templeton Student Center in Lewis Thayer’s honor.

“Rachel wasn’t a ‘chitchatter’ and neither was I,” remembers Julianne Beall ’67, coeditor of the Dewey decimal classification at the Library of Congress, who, as a student, worked with Thayer. “She was intelligent and professional and, at the same time, very low-key and matter-of-fact. She gave sensible instructions, then she let her employees work on their own, as long as they were on the right track.”

Several years after establishing the Lewis and Rachel Thayer Scholarship Fund at the College, Thayer decided that she wanted to meet the first student recipient. Her quarterly payments to the charitable unitrust, which family members also supported, funded the scholarship.

Thayer met Willow McCormick ’02, a theatre major and the first student to receive the scholarship, at a luncheon in Frank Manor House in 1999.

“I’m so thankful for the scholarship,” says McCormick. “Mrs. Thayer and I looked at photographs from my summers as a camp counselor and talked about our families. I’m from a single-parent, working-class family, and I would never have been able to attend Lewis & Clark without financial aid. Mrs. Thayer and other generous donors make my education here possible.”

Simons sets up charitable trust

Sybil Simons grew up on a 1,999-acre cattle ranch in eastern Oregon, where she milked cows, collected eggs and walked more than a mile to the small local school. Her family moved to Seaside in the 1920s, then moved to Portland in the 1940s, where she met and married Adolph Simons, who worked for Gunderson Co.

Simons grew up in a family of musicians, and she developed an appreciation for a variety of musical styles.

Simons became interested in Lewis & Clark when her cousin, who served in World War II, attended the College in the late 1940s. She recently established a charitable remainder unitrust, which will one day fund the Adolph and Sybil Simons Scholarship to benefit music students at Lewis & Clark.

Ward creates bequest

George Ward ’51 served in World War II before returning to southwest Portland, where he married and started a family. He attended the College with financial aid provided through the GI Bill of Rights and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1951. One of his four children, Nancy Jo Ward ’73, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College.

“Often, I ponder how much better my life has been as a result of my Lewis & Clark education,” he says. “I reaped not only academic rewards, but I also had amazing monetary opportunities open up for me because of my Lewis & Clark degree.”

Ward, who began his career at the Bonneville Power Administration as a clerk typist before the war, says his college degree propelled him professionally. After graduation, he garnered a position in the agency’s resources and development department in Portland, where he analyzed power requirements. He later moved to Salt Lake City and worked as chief of marketing and sales for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation until 1971.

After retiring from his government job, Ward worked for a small engineering firm that, in conjunction with five municipalities in the Los Angeles area, built a coal-powered steam plant near Delta, Utah. As California struggled to meet its energy needs, that plant provided an energy lifeline for those five municipalities.

Ward now lives in Sun City, Ariz., and builds Habitat for Humanity houses in nearby El Mirage, Ariz.

“It’s hard to put a finger on the exact meaning of a college education,” he says. “It definitely gave me more confidence and allowed me to progress in my field.”

Ward recently established a bequest in his will that will one day benefit student scholarships.

—by Pattie Pace

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