Spotlight on the Duryea Society

There are probably very few of us eager to seriously contemplate the end of our lives and or think of the prospect of leaving behind people and places important to us. But we all know that it behooves us to do some type of advance planning, whether that entails making a simple will, setting up a trust, or arranging charitable annuities.

Members of one very special group of alumni have named their alma mater as a beneficiary in their wills, trusts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies—not only making a savvy estate planning decision but benefiting the school that they love and that put them on the path to success.

That group, the Samuel B. Duryea Society, was created in 1990 and was named after Samuel Bowne Duryea (1845–1892), a former student who was the first ever to make a bequest to the school. That generous gift was made in 1885, and in the years that have followed many other devoted graduates have followed in his footsteps.

Gerry Liebling, who earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1959, had a long and distinguished career at General Electric and remained with the aerospace division even after it was sold to Martin Marietta and later came under the umbrella of the merged Lock- heed Martin. Throughout those mergers and acquisitions, Liebling, who was posted to several exotic locales, including Micronesia, during his tenure, held onto the GE stock he had been awarded. It had appreciated and would be subject to hefty capital gains taxes, he knew.

Liebling discovered that an ideal solution would be to create what is called a charitable remainder trust and fund it with the stock; he had only to decide what organization would be the beneficiary. His thoughts turned to his alma mater. “I have had a very good career, but I didn’t create it on my own,” he explains. “The school was in- strumental in helping me and I knew that this would be a good way to repay it for its part in my success.”

That same mix of pragmatism and emotion also motivated Charlie Hinkaty (’70, ’72). He completed college, he says, only with the help of scholarships, because his father died shortly before his sophomore year. He wants to provide similar aid to students in the same straits.

“Joining the Duryea Society was an easy choice,” he asserts. “The school ultimately prepared me for what was a long, fruitful career at Procter and Gamble, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Del Labs. It even had a big effect on my personal life, because I met my wife of more than four decades while on a leadership conference I attended as a student. Of course, I want to give back.”

Norbert Bikales (’56, ’61), who plans to leave the remaining funds in his IRA retirement plan to the school, recently at- tended a luncheon for members of the Society, and he hopes to see future events crowded with even more donors. Still, his favorite guests were the students who had benefitted from the Duryea Society’s support. “They were very impressive,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s wonderful to see them getting the opportunity to develop their talents even further, and it will be exciting to see what their future holds.”