Throughout his life, Col. John R. Vilas ’53 ’66 has been guided by one principle: respect. He first embraced the principle in the Corps of Cadets, before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial education. Vilas adhered to that principle during a 30-year U.S. Army career and following his 1983 retirement.
“Respect for our nation and form of government, respect for the law, respect for family and fellow man, respect for tradition—these are the lessons I learned at A&M and over many years,” said Vilas, who served in Korea and Vietnam, receiving three Legion of Merit awards, a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge among other decorations for U.S. and foreign service.
To support the university “embodying the principles we value,” Vilas and his wife, Jean, recently made a major gift to the Texas A&M Foundation through a charitable gift annuity.
The College Station residents, who have been married 56 years, funded their gift with shares of Apple stock, a decision they said, “just made sense.”
“We bought Apple stock in 1995 and 1997. Over the years, the stock split several times and our small investment grew. Apple didn’t pay dividends, so by donating the stock through a charitable gift annuity, we receive a guaranteed income for our lifetimes and rather significant tax benefits,” explained Vilas, who manages the couple’s ranch in Millican, Texas, and enjoys researching the area’s history.