October 3, 2017

Written by Debra and Douglas Johnson ’82 
Edited by Ashley Wagner ’18 

Debra and Douglas Johnson '82, shown here with their grandkids, have created a chartiable bequest in their estate plan that will help alleviate financial struggles for future Aggies.

Douglas Johnson ’82 knows firsthand the difficulties and setbacks that come with paying your way through school, but with hard work, a strong commitment to his education and a little help from a school-funded scholarship, he was able to make a significant impact in his own life. 

Before receiving his bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas A&M University in 1982, Doug enrolled at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory High School in Houston. His mother negotiated a scholarship to offset the cost of his private education. The scholarship covered one-third of his tuition, while the remaining two-thirds would be covered by Doug and his mother.  

 To cover his part, Doug was assigned odd jobs by the school to be completed around campus, which sometimes included cleaning classrooms after school each day. He was committed to earning his portion of the tuition, and he worked as much as he could to ensure he could continue to attend Strake Jesuit. 

“It was important to me to continue going to school there,” said Doug. “When you graduate from a school like Strake Jesuit, not only do they train you for college, but it feels like you’ve already attended college.”  

Armed with four years of college preparatory experience, Doug made his way to Aggieland in 1978. Again, he worked all four years at school, waiting tables at Pelican’s Wharf Restaurant and giving up much of his social life to save up money for school.  

“Doug is an avid sports enthusiast,” said Doug’s wife, Debra. “On days when the football team had an early start, Doug would be at Kyle Field, catching most of the game before making his way back to the restaurant to prepare for the after-game rush. As for the other events, he would just read about them in the paper.”  

In 2005, Doug’s daughter, Ashley, graduated from Texas A&M and learned about the importance of working hard to solidify her future, similar to her father.  “It was up to Ashley to pay for her tuition while she was in school,” said Doug. “She would present her grades to us and receive half of it back, but this way, she had skin in the game and knew it was up to her to make it happen.” The deal between Ashley and her parents allowed her to have the experience of campus life that Doug never had but also made her accountable for her education.  

“I learned over the years that even when you fall on hard times, you can recover,” said Doug. “With strength and ambition, working toward your goals can make them a reality. Without the foundation and lessons I learned at Strake Jesuit, I may have missed out on the opportunity to attend Texas A&M.” 

To give back to students struggling with financial aid, much like Doug, who have worked hard but are unable to afford higher education, the Johnsons decided to contact the Texas A&M Foundation and include a planned gift in their trust. After talking with the Office of Gift Planning, they learned they could make the biggest impact through a charitable bequest, funding scholarships for students at Texas A&M with financial need.   

“We wanted to give students in texas who have the ambition and academics the same opportunities to succeed as their peers,” said Debra. “Education is the future.”   

By including the Texas A&M Foundation in your estate plan, you can make a charitable bequest to Texas A&M and retain your assets during your lifetime, lessen the burden of taxes on your family and support the students, faculty and programs at Texas A&M. A bequest can be made as a gift of a percentage of your estate, a gift of a specific asset, or a gift from the balance or residue of your estate. 

The Johnsons plan to move to College Station after retirement and spend more time enjoying the campus, sporting events and life here in Aggieland. With seven future Aggie grandchildren, Doug and Debra hope that they will have the opportunity to experience the culture, passion and knowledge that Texas A&M holds.  

“Higher education is important,” said Doug. “Getting the opportunity to learn more, expand your horizons and experience the world are all tremendously invaluable. We want to help students realize that.” 

To learn more about making a bequest in your estate, contact the Office of Gift Planning today or request an Estate and Gift Planning kit to assist you with your plans.