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Sheldon Kay skiing

The Rewards of Retirement

His gift will fight cancer. Hers will help deserving students. Both provide annual payments to the donors for life.

Fall 2018

There's no right way to retire. And there's more than one way to support Stanford. Here are two examples of how investing and philanthropy can be connected.

Sheldon Kay, a native New Yorker, had just graduated from City College when he first came to the Bay Area for a job. "Since then, I've always lived around Stanford," he says. "I come to campus to see movies, I go to Bing Concert Hall. Stanford has always been a part of my life."

After retiring from a 32-year career as a thermodynamics engineer, Sheldon carefully planned for his financial security. One of his decisions was to create a charitable gift annuity with Stanford.

In exchange for the gift, Sheldon benefits from a fixed annuity that is based on his age at the time the annuity was created and the size of his gift. At the time he created the charitable gift annuity, he also was entitled to a charitable income tax deduction for a portion of the gift value. "I've gotten really lucky in my investments," Sheldon says. "Knowing that I could give stocks and not pay capital gains tax when the stocks were sold helped with my decision."

When a donor establishes a charitable gift annuity at Stanford, the donor can choose how the remaining assets will be used at Stanford after his or her lifetime. Sheldon's gift will benefit cancer research at the School of Medicine.

Sheldon first learned about charitable gift annuities several years ago, while helping a friend explore charitable organizations to support with her assets. When it came time for him to do the same, giving to the School of Medicine felt right. "I'd like as much research as possible to help with fighting cancer," he explains.

The annuity Sheldon receives from his charitable gift annuity has helped him spend his retirement doing what he loves: skiing in Tahoe, traveling all over the world, volunteering at the local senior center, and taking care of his Menlo Park home. He still hits the Tahoe slopes on a regular basis and recently traveled to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.


Katherine Cameron, '69, grew up knowing she wanted to go to Stanford. She recalls leaving her small citrus town in Southern California and arriving at Stanford excited to be surrounded by people from all over the world. "Classes were taught by scholars at the top of their fields. I remember the Russian revolutionary Alexander Kerensky bicycling past Hoover Tower one day and I thought, 'Wow, there goes history!'"

Katherine says her love for Stanford made the decision to create a charitable gift annuity an easy one. "My husband and I needed to make sure we're taken care of, and the beauty of the charitable gift annuity is that you get annual payments for yourself while also benefiting a charity. For us, it was a no-brainer."

She and her husband, Peter Vaccaro, have instructed that in the future, the remaining funds from their annuity will be added to the Katherine S. Cameron and R. P. Vaccaro Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, which supports students who are the first in their families to attend college. "My undergraduate experience was so generous in terms of intellectual resources. I want other people who aren't as lucky as I was to have the same opportunities."

Having retired from her career teaching art, Katherine enjoys spending time painting. She keeps her connection to Stanford alive as an outreach volunteer, meeting and interviewing high school students who are applying to the university.

In October, she'll be back at Stanford for her 50th reunion. "It's always great to come to campus," she says. "Even after all this time, once you're part of the Stanford community, you're in it forever."

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