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Joe and Kathy Cusick

Joe and Kathy Cusick enjoy annuity payments for life from the life income gifts they made to Stanford in honor of their 50th and 55th reunions.

The ABCs of Life Income Gifts

Kathy and Joe Cusick found two kinds of lasting love at Stanford—for each other, and for the university that brought them together. Decades later, they celebrated these relationships by creating two charitable gift annuities, which offer them fixed payments for life while providing support for Stanford in the long term.

Kathryn Moore Cusick, '51, a Bay Area native and daughter and granddaughter of alumni, set her sights on a Stanford education early and applied only to the Farm. Joseph Cusick, '51, GSB Sloan Fellow '73, raised in Chicago, decided to attend Stanford on his Navy ROTC scholarship, a choice confirmed on a campus visit in the summer of 1947. "I was thrilled to get my first choice selection," he recalls.

The French major (Kathy) and the journalism major (Joe) met as seniors. Engaged before graduation, they married the following year. The Los Gatos, California, couple has just celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Both have made Stanford an integral part of their lives. Joe, a retired civilian executive for the Air Force, is a lifelong volunteer and gifted fundraiser who received Stanford's prestigious Gold Spike for volunteer service in 1973. He also earned the Governors' Award from Stanford Associates in 1995. Kathy, a retired librarian who worked in San Jose's Evergreen School District, has volunteered for Stanford University Library Associates, several fundraising campaigns, and her reunions.

Indeed, reunions have helped keep their Stanford ties strong. "I always remember the reunions," says Kathy. Joe took on key volunteer roles, serving as giving campaign co-chair for his 45th, 50th, and 55th, and as events co-chair with Kathy for their 60th.

While volunteering for their reunion in 2001, Joe and Kathy first thought about making a planned gift to Stanford.

Kathy Cusick's Stanford Alphabet Book

Because the Cusicks have a large family—8 children, 14 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren—the couple had waited until their children were self-supporting to consider a major gift. By their 50th reunion, they felt the time had come. Kathy and Joe agreed that they wanted to make a "stretch" gift while still feeling comfortable about their long-term financial security.

Both were attracted to the notion of a charitable gift annuity (CGA), a life income gift that establishes a contract between Stanford and the donors. This contract provides for individuals—the annuitants—to be paid a fixed dollar amount each year for life in exchange for the gift. After the annuitants are no longer living, the remaining assets are then used at Stanford to support the purpose designated by the donors.

"In celebrating our 50th reunion, it was an opportune time to provide a lead gift that would also provide us with an income," explains Joe.

Ultimately, the Cusicks created two charitable gift annuities at Stanford—one for their 50th reunion and one for their 55th—which serve as "his and hers" gifts. In addition to cash, the couple also chose to give appreciated stock. They were pleased to learn that no capital gains tax was due at the time of the stock's sale. The Cusicks’ gifts will support The Stanford Fund, the Hoover Institution, and an endowed book fund that the couple created.

The annuity payments have been put to good use, the couple says, especially in supporting a prized collection of Kathy's.

During her work as a Library Associates volunteer in 1973, Kathy started her own book collection. She focused on alphabet books (think "A is for Apple"). Although historically made to educate children, many such volumes also have been created for art-loving adults.

Kathy now has 700 large-format ABC books and several hundred miniatures. How do the CGA annuity payments help? "I look on it as discretionary income, and it has financed some of my book purchases," she says.

Kathy combines her interest in overseas travel with her love of books in a special ritual: When she arrives at her destination, she seeks out a foreign-language bookstore and selects an alphabet book for her collection. Joe and Kathy did just that during one of their favorite trips, an Istanbul-to-Venice tour organized by Stanford Travel/Study.

Ever creative, Kathy united her enthusiasm for reunions with her expertise in ABC books for their 40th reunion: She authored an original alphabet book for classmates, featuring photos from their Stanford years. It's now a highly collectible artifact itself—filled with the memories that first launched the Cusicks on their lifelong relationship with the university, one that will continue far into the future with their charitable gift annuities.

Editor's note: Joe Cusick passed away on March 27, 2013. He will be greatly missed by the Stanford community.

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