In eighth grade, Les Pittman ’74 began working at his uncle’s gas station to earn money for college. He knew he wanted to attend Texas A&M University, but he lacked the funds.
“By the time I enrolled in 1970, I had saved enough to pay for three semesters—the minimal time required to enter the College of Engineering’s Cooperative Education Program,” Les said. “While a co-op student, I earned enough to pay for the remainder of my education and graduate with a civil engineering degree on time with no debt.”
His wife Sandy did the same, graduating from Texas State University in 1974 with a degree in home economics and a specialty in family ecology. She is now a retired preschool teacher, and Les is an associate professor of practice in Zachry Department of Civil Engineering.
The couple previously established the Sandy and Les Pittman ’74 and Pittman Family Endowed Scholarship, which provides scholarships for undergraduate students pursuing a degree in civil engineering. “But through the years, we always hoped that we would be able to do more to assist students in pursuit of their educational goals,” Les Pittman said.
They harbored another dream as well.
Hill Country Haven
Having grown up in the coastal prairies of Victoria, Texas, the Pittmans dreamed of owning a piece of the Texas Hill Country.
In 2003 they purchased more than 500 acres between Fredericksburg and Llano, Texas, as an investment they could enjoy over the years with their friends and family.
The Pittmans visited often, but once their sons Kyle ’01 and Jared ’03 graduated and formed families of their own out-of-state, their free time decreased resulting in less time at the ranch.
“As Sandy and I approached 60, the reality of our mortality became apparent and we wanted to give more attention to our parents and grandchildren,” Pittman said. “We had to make decisions about where we could and should spend our time.”
A Trustworthy Solution
The couple reduced the ranch to a more manageable size by selling one parcel of acreage. After deciding to keep the 204 acres on which they had built a house, the Pittmans established a charitable remainder unitrust through the Texas A&M Foundation with the remaining 160 acres.
“When you sell highly appreciated real estate outright, you generate significant capital gains that lead to capital gains taxes,” Les Pittman said. “By using the charitable remainder unitrust, we were able to avoid the capital gains taxes and receive a significant income-tax deduction.”
The trust will benefit the couple with annual payments, and after their lifetimes, the trust will provide 20 years of payments to their sons. At the trust’s termination, the remaining balance will support the program of their choice at Texas A&M.
“This charitable remainder unitrust fits our situation and needs perfectly,” Sandy Pittman said. “We were not rushed into an irrevocable giving decision when we made the agreement. Instead, we can decide exactly how we want to direct the funds for Texas A&M anytime we’re ready.”
Les Pittman agrees that the decision was an easy one. “Because of the structure of this endowed gift, we will be able to do something for others for a very long time. And we can enjoy the satisfaction of this decision today.
To discuss how a planned gift to the Texas A&M Foundation might benefit you, your family and the university, contact Glenn Pittsford ’72 in the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 392-3310.