January 6, 2020

John speaking on behalf of the Texas A&M Foundation's Board of Trustees.

Even before the late John R. Hill Jr. ’44 learned the core values at Texas A&M University, he was an avid believer in the power of giving back. His late wife, Peggy, also an advocate of generosity, was dedicated to community service in every way possible. The Hills became a model for their children, teaching them that giving back with their time, talents and treasures was a staple value.

Dedicated Service

John served in the U.S. Army in the 88th and 326th Glider Infantry of the 13th Airborne Division in the European Theatre in World War II. After completing his mission, John’s intellectual curiosity and desire to learn led him back to Texas A&M University, where he received a degree in civil engineering. John joined his father after graduation at Gifford-Hill & Company, a large-scale construction materials business, as an engineer before climbing the ranks to become the company’s first vice president in 1958 and chairman of the board in 1977.

The Aggie impacted Texas A&M in various ways, from serving on the board for Texas A&M University Press and the Department of Civil Engineering, to becoming an active member of Mays Business School’s Development Council and dedicating seven years of service to the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees. John strived to selflessly serve his alma mater to repay the university for the experiences it provided him.

His numerous civic endeavors and innovative thinking were recognized in 1978 when he received the Humanitarian Medal of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and, again, in 1994 when The Association of Former Students awarded him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

When John wasn’t serving his community, he was searching for mid 1800s-era historical state stamps and postal history to add to his renowned collection. He was an avid stamp collector for many years of his life and took pride in the wide assortment of historical postmarks he discovered.

Peggy and John Hill Jr. '44

Paving the Way

Peggy and John wanted to support their family while also giving back to John’s alma mater, so they established a charitable remainder unitrust in December 1987 for future benefit of the campus areas that had the greatest impact on his college experience: Mays Business School, Sterling C. Evans Library, Texas A&M University Press and the Corps of Cadets.

Sara Walsh, the Hills’ youngest daughter, said her father wanted to afford more students with the opportunity to attend college. “He was able to attend Texas A&M and enjoy his time at the university, and I know he wanted to grant that financial freedom to as many people as he could,” she explained. The gift to Mays Business School will provide that opportunity by allocating unrestricted funds for the purpose of awarding Foundation Excellence Award scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups, including minorities and those from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

John was a lifelong learner who devoted time to reading and education daily. His daughter, Cynthia Landen, shared that her parents’ gifts to Evans Library and Texas A&M University Press embodied her father’s love for learning and created a legacy for upholding quality education. “My dad believed in the power of education to change lives. His gifts were a tangible way to support that belief,” Landen said.

The Hills’ gift to the Corps provides unrestricted funds to support the goals and objectives of its Enhancement Plan, a project to improve cadets’ learning experiences, provide financial assistance, support recruiting efforts and maintain outstanding facilities.

Everlasting Impact

The Hills’ gift is a powerful testimony that giving to Texas A&M can have a long-term impact for donors and the university. The $990,000 they invested in the charitable remainder unitrust in 1987 paid them 5% annually for 32 years. Even after those generous payments, the trust nearly doubled, and the remaining gift totaled $1.7 million. Of that, $1.1 million will provide the university with financial support for years to come. The remainder will benefit Highland Park Presbyterian Church and the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.

The Hills' initial $990,000 investment nearly doubled through the charitable remainder unitrust. The Foundation’s accounting system only dates to 1994. Thus, the chart above reflects the gap between when the fund was established in 1987 and when the Foundation obtained accounting records in 1994.

Generosity and outreach were embedded in Peggy and John’s DNA. They believed their obligation in life was to help the next person in line be successful. “Growing up, we saw our parents as role models,” recalled Landen. “They emphasized unconditional love and generosity, and that’s what defined them.”

The Best of Both Worlds

A charitable remainder unitrust offers support for you and your family along with the satisfaction of making a significant gift that benefits you now and Texas A&M in the future. Cash, securities or real estate are transferred into a charitable trust, which will pay a percentage of the value of its principal to you and your beneficiaries.

After your lifetime, the remainder will go to the Texas A&M Foundation to be used at the university as you specify.

Charitable remainder unitrust benefits include:

  • An immediate charitable income-tax deduction
  • Avoidance of up-front capital-gains taxes
  • Payments for life
  • Elimination of property ownership burdens


To learn more about making a planned gift that can benefit you, your family and the university, contact Angela Throne '03 at the bottom of this page.