January 21, 2016

Honorary and memorial gifts bring simplicity and originality to gift giving. They are a tangible way to give thanks, a meaningful method of remembrance, and never fail in leaving a special mark on Texas A&M University. Whether you want to find a unique way to express gratitude or treasure a loved one, an honorary or memorial gift combines generosity with inspiration. 

These four stories illustrate the power of honorary and memorial gifts on our campus. Each one uniquely supports and celebrates the Aggie Spirit.

1. Acknowledge someone you admire

Jean and Skip Johnson '52

1. An honorary or memorial gift allows you to acknowledge someone you admire. What better way to show appreciation than by creating a gift that keeps giving?

When Skip Johnson ’52 was a senior at Texas A&M, he sold his senior boots so he could take his girlfriend to Ring Dance. Years later, he sold some corporate stocks so he could establish a scholarship in the College of Education and Human Development in honor of this same woman—his wife of 63 years. The Jean Putnam Johnson Scholarship, managed by the Texas A&M Foundation, supports education students preparing to become teachers. As a tangible way to honor his wife and marriage, Skip’s gifts now also include a President’s Endowed Scholarship and several Corps of Cadets’ scholarships in his wife’s name. 

2. Honor a loved one

John Willis with this family.

2. In the wake of tragedy, a memorial gift can be a beautiful way to honor a loved one. Many donors use memorial gifts as a way to cope with the loss of a loved one and to create memories. 

After John Willis ’92 passed away from cancer, family friend Ray Davis created the John L. Willis '92 Endowment to help fund hands-on capstone projects for engineering students. To recognize Willis’ creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, Davis met with the engineering department to ensure his memorial gift was as Willis would have envisioned. The gift not only created a lasting legacy for Willis’ passions, but will continue to serve and inspire staff and students. 

3. Be creative

Stacey Cook, with daughter Grace celebrate a birthday with their black Labrador retriever, Callie.

3. Honorary and memorial gifts can be creative. 

When John and Stacey Cook’s beloved black lab passed away from kidney disease, Stacey was inspired to create the Callie Cook Endowment for Kidney Disease Research at Texas A&M in honor of her beloved pet. The $35,000 gift, managed by the Foundation and allocated to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, helps veterinarians identify biomarkers for early diagnosis and better treatment of chronic kidney disease in dogs. “Creating this endowment gave me purpose,” Stacey said. “I love that this gift will last forever and that it can help me teach my daughter about giving.”

4. Join together

The Urbanovsky family at the 2013 Reflections Display in the MSC Flag Room before Muster.

4. Honorary and memorial gifts can be created through a joint effort. One of the best ways to help leave a legacy is by allowing many to contribute. Inviting friends and family to participate makes a gift truly special as the power of giving promotes a spirit of togetherness.  

Luke Urbanovsky ’15 died in a car accident during his 2012 freshman year at Texas A&M. As a way to commemorate his Aggie experience, friends and family members formed the Luke Urbanovsky ’15 Memorial MSC FISH Endowment, a fund to aid the freshman leadership organization in which Luke spent much of his time. While raising $25,000 seemed like a challenging goal, donations quickly came from family, friends, colleagues, and business (including many with matching-gift programs). Through joint efforts, the memorial endowment became a tangible way to honor Luke’s legacy by bringing together loved ones. 

“We are truly amazed and blessed that we reached our goal in 10 months,” said Luke’s mother, Connie Urbanovsky. “Some donations were small and others larger, but it all added up to make this goal achievable.”

Creating an honorary or memorial gift should be a meaningful and inspiring process with many ways to make a difference. Name a building, create a scholarship, or even fund a faculty chair. Let your next gift inspire a greater purpose through an honorary or memorial method of giving. Call the Texas A&M Foundation to start creating your gift today. 

Texas A&M Foundation
Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.

You can support Texas A&M University with a gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation. For additional information about honorary and memorial gifts, contact Lynn Harris with the Foundation at (800) 392-3310, (979) 845-8161 or lharris@txamfoundation.com