July 6, 2020

Jenny and Bob Jarcik's blended cash and estate gift to support student veterans allows them to see the impact their planned gift will have after their lifetimes.

Bob Jarcik will tell you himself: He was meant to be an Aggie, but circumstances got in the way. “Through no fault of my own, my parents birthed me in Gary, Indiana,” he joked. “If they had known better, they would’ve done it in Texas.” Bob was a bright Midwestern kid with a knack for numbers and technology. He built his first analog computer at age 12, studied and tinkered continuously throughout high school, and graduated from Valparaiso University in 1972 with dual degrees in mathematics and economics.

One day at Valparaiso, Bob sat in front of his fraternity house internally debating whether he would attend his most dreaded course of the day. Suddenly, a friend from a neighboring sorority drove up and offered a ride to class. Spotting a charming pledge in the backseat, Bob took the offer and spent the ride introducing himself to Jenny, a freshman education major from Evansville, Indiana. After a series of failed attempts to schedule a first date, the two deeply connected and eventually married.

Soon after graduation, the Vietnam War dominated headlines, and men across America received draft cards in the mail. Bob grew up in a military family—his father was a Navy veteran who served as a cook in World War II, one uncle served in the Army during peacetime, another uncle in the Navy fought at Leyte Gulf and his brother completed Officer Candidate School to join the Marine Corps. Not one to stray from his family’s service tradition, Bob enthusiastically lined up to join his brother in the Marines, taking an oath of service before he was rejected because of his poor eyesight. “If you lose your glasses in combat, you’ll shoot your own men,” the physical examiner told him. Heartbroken, Bob dedicated himself to supporting service members however he could.

After Jenny earned her master’s degree in education from Valparaiso, she and Bob resettled in Austin, Texas, in 1977. Their only daughter, Sabrina Jarcik Kephart ’01, was born a year later, and Jenny and Bob pursued their early passions: Bob continued to work in information technology, and Jenny taught gifted and talented middle school students and writing curriculum for Round Rock ISD.

When the Jarciks arrived in Austin, their first inclination was to follow the local crowd and pledge fealty to The University of Texas at Austin. However, as they spent more time with Bob’s supervisor, a loyal Aggie, the couple came to love Texas A&M University as if it were their alma mater. “I would have loved to attend Texas A&M and been a member of the Corps,” Bob said. “That would’ve changed my life. The camaraderie, leadership and professionalism there remind me of the Marine Corps.”

Jenny and Bob enjoying an Aggie football game with their daughter, Sabrina Jarcik Kephart '01.

Years flew by and, before the Jarciks knew it, Sabrina was a high school senior thumbing through college brochures. Jenny and Bob encouraged their daughter to apply to Valparaiso as well as Texas A&M, but a middle school field trip to College Station had already captured her heart. Sabrina took to Texas A&M’s community-focused culture, fostering friendships with dozens of students in her sorority and the Corps of Cadets. As their daughter flourished as an Aggie, Bob and Jenny’s connection to the university grew stronger.

Although Sabrina graduated with a degree in nutritional science in 2001, Jenny and Bob’s love for Texas A&M has remained steadfast. “We believe and support the core values of the university,” Jenny said. After retiring in 2011, the couple decided to leave their mark on Aggieland by making a planned gift in their will in 2012 to establish a scholarship benefiting the Corps of Cadets.

But as time passed, Jenny and Bob felt compelled to create a gift with an impact they could see. “We always wanted to support Texas A&M,” Bob said, “but we thought it would be nice to know who we are helping.” The Jarciks worked with Dave Fujimoto ’17, director of development for veteran affairs, to identify a giving opportunity most fit for them: Aggie Veteran Patriot Scholarships supporting Texas A&M student veterans. “It has been a great pleasure to work with Jenny and Bob on this gift,” Fujimoto said. “Their enthusiasm and support for Texas A&M and our student veterans is a great example of purposeful philanthropy.”                                                                                                        

When fellow patriotic donors Ellie and Don Knauss pledged to match up to $500,000 toward the creation of new scholarships for Aggie veterans, the Jarciks took the opportunity to give $25,000 and utilize the match to create a $50,000 Aggie Veteran Patriot Scholarship endowment. They also re-designated their previous planned gift, valued at nearly $900,000, to further support this endowment after their lifetimes. Their blended cash and estate gift will benefit countless Aggie student veterans now and in the future.

Jenny and Bob currently live in Dallas to be closer to Sabrina and her family. At Sabrina’s wedding, Bob spread some dirt he had surreptitiously collected from Kyle Field so Sabrina could say she was technically married at the Home of the 12th Man. Though they never stepped foot on Texas A&M’s campus as students or served their country in uniform, Bob and Jenny’s gifts to support Aggie veterans speak to values they see in Aggies and service members alike: warmth in community and strength in numbers.

An old saying has followed Texas A&M for decades: “From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can't explain it.” However, the Jarciks have been looking in from the outside for roughly 40 years now, and they not only understand what makes their adopted university special—they believe it with their whole hearts.

To support student veterans through a scholarship, contact Dave Fujimoto ’17 by using the form below. To learn how you can use planned giving to leave your legacy at Texas A&M, contact Angela Throne ’03 at giftplanning@txamfoundation.com.