January 29, 2016

When Dionel Avilès ’53 and his wife, Barbara, updated their estate plan recently, they created a revocable living trust that benefits their children and Texas A&M programs. The trust, which may be revised as needed, ensures the couple’s handpicked trustee will distribute their trust assets as they wish.

“We divided the proceeds of our trust among our four children — three are mine, one is Barbara’s,” said Avilès, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M. “My fifth child must be Texas A&M.” 

Barbara Avilès chimes in, “There’s no doubt about that!”

The couple completed the trust’s A&M provisions in about a week. “It was easy. I started by asking then Texas A&M Foundation President Eddie Joe Davis to have someone call me,” Dr. Avilès said. Then, with help from financial advisers and Texas A&M Foundation staff, the couple structured a portion of their trust to create endowments for civil engineering and Corps of Cadets scholarships and a gift for the 12th Man Foundation.

Those choices are heartfelt. “I’m a product of the Corps of Cadets. I continued my military career and retired as a major general in the Army Reserve. Civil engineering was my major, and I practiced it for the last 50 years,” said Avilès, who founded Avilès Engineering Corp. in 1981 and is its president. “I want to see civil engineers develop, to build this country’s infrastructure of roads, bridges and airfields. We have a shortage of engineers. And although my father insisted I become an engineer, I wanted to be a baseball player, so athletics has always been part of my life, too.

“A&M gave me the tools and the association with classmates who helped me succeed. Our hope is that young kids who receive our scholarships will keep the circle going and give back to the university.”

His wife agrees. “We want to instill the value of giving back, which we learned from our childhood, our education and our lives. Our parents always made education a top priority. I didn’t go to A&M; I went to Texas Tech. But A&M offers something special. It’s not just the education that’s valuable — that Aggie class ring means a lot, too. We see the importance of an Aggie education and want to give it to those who desire it but can’t afford it.”

The Houston couple’s previous gifts for A&M include a President’s Endowed Scholarship, a General Rudder Corps Scholarship, a Sul Ross Corps Scholarship, geotechnical scholarship in civil engineering, the Avilès Military History Library Endowment and an athletic scholarship through the 12th Man Foundation. Dr. Avilès also has years of service on the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, Corps of Cadets Development Council, Texas A&M Hispanic Network and President’s Board of Visitors. 

He encourages all Aggies to serve and contribute financially to A&M. “They can create their own legacy of supporting A&M. They should do it if they can.” 

Barbara Avilès adds a postscript: “It’s not the amount that’s important. It’s the spirit of giving to something you believe in.”

By Mary Vinnedge ’75

Texas A&M Foundation
The 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.

For additional information about how you can support Texas A&M through a planned gift, contact Angela Throne ’03 with the Foundation at (800) 392-3310, (979) 845-5638 or athrone@txamfoundation.com.