February 14, 2021

When Jill and Rick Steco committed a bequest to benefit the Texas A&M University College of Medicine, they successfully blended two of Rick’s top priorities which Jill whole heartedly endorses: supporting both Rick’s adopted university and the groundbreaking cancer prevention research taking place within its walls. Their gift also fulfilled a third purpose: memorializing Rick’s wife of 26 years, Linda, who died of throat cancer at age 57.

Jill and Rick Steco created the Richard and Jill Steco Cancer Research Endowment to fund cancer prevention research in the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

The gift speaks volumes not only about Linda, but also about the impression Texas A&M’s cancer prevention research efforts have made on Rick and Jill. This is especially remarkable considering that until 23 years ago, Rick had never even heard of the university.

Rick graduated from college in New Jersey and law school in Ohio. He settled outside of Chicago, where he is the managing director of an ergonomic products company. At Linda’s corporate retreat in 1997, he met his first rabid Aggie and future lifelong friend, Mikal Harn ’88.

“Mikal introduced me to the concept of Texas A&M as a way of life,” Rick said. “He took me to an Aggie football game, and I immediately fell in love with the place. The campus and the people really resonated with me.”

After Linda’s death, Rick’s mother introduced him to Jill, the lifestyles director at her senior living facility. The matchmaking effort was a success. Eager to introduce Jill to Mikal and his other Aggie friends, Rick took Jill to her first Texas A&M football game. Not a football fan, Jill had her reservations. But those were soon dispelled.

“I understood what Rick saw in the Aggie Spirit as soon as I arrived at the stadium!” Jill said.

For years, Rick and Jill discussed ways they could support research focused on preventing, rather than curing, cancer. Spurred by the excitement surrounding Texas A&M’s Lead by Example campaign, the Stecos made their intention a reality. By naming the Texas A&M Foundation as a beneficiary in Rick’s will, the couple’s gift will create the Richard and Jill Steco Cancer Research Endowment in Memory of Linda Steco. Endowment proceeds will fund cancer prevention research in the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

“We thought that if we could get an idea going, others might support Texas A&M’s cancer research endeavors, too,” Rick said. “Even if gifts are in the form of smaller contributions, those become larger contributions down the road.”

Jill agreed. “For me, leading by example means giving others an idea of what they can do to make a difference.”

To learn more about how you can use a planned gift to support future groundbreaking medical research at Texas A&M University, please contact Brian Harrison '91 by completing the form below.

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