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A watercolor of the quad

A gift from the heart honoring those who inspire

With their planned gift, a Stanford alum and her husband remember two beloved Stanford professors.

Stanford is what brought Doni, AM ’68, and Sid Hubbard together. Their story goes back to the mid-1960s—and begins with the color red. 

It was a bitterly cold winter’s day at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, where undergrad Doni Ellison was attending on scholarships and financial aid. She donned a bright red skirt and sweater to keep warm and headed off to class. Noticing her outfit, her professor handed her a brochure and remarked, “I think this is meant for you.”

That red brochure was all about financial aid opportunities at Stanford Graduate School of Education. Though Doni had long planned to be a teacher, she had considered graduate school financially out of reach—and that brochure opened her eyes to new possibilities. Telling no one, she applied.

When she was accepted, the first person she shared her good news with was her classmate Sid Hubbard. By sheer coincidence, it turned out that Sid was born and raised in Palo Alto. He had played high school sports on Stanford’s fields, and his family’s lumber business had contributed to many structures on Stanford’s campus. Even more surprising: Sid’s uncle was the dean of admissions—the same dean who had signed Doni’s acceptance letter!           

Nearly 60 years later, to honor all the ways these coincidences made the rest of their lives together possible, the Hubbards have created a planned gift that provides future support to Stanford in a way that’s meaningful to them.

Doni and Sid

Doni, AM '68, and Sid Hubbard on their property in Rancho Mirage.

“We’re so grateful to acknowledge our Stanford experiences,” says Doni. “I’m the Stanford alum in our family, but Sid, growing up in Palo Alto, has always been deeply connected with Stanford, too.”

After earning her master’s degree, Doni began teaching at a nearby high school. In due time, she and Sid married and started a family. Sid’s job led them to four different states in the next five years, but wherever they called home, Doni always found a job—the benefit, she says, of having a Stanford degree on her résumé. “‘I’m not going to let a Stanford grad get away’ was a statement I heard more than once,” she says.

Doni gave whatever she could to Stanford in gratitude for the financial support she had received, even if that meant mailing just $10 or $20 at a time.

"It’s gratitude that prompts giving,” explained Doni.

In creating their planned gift, the Hubbards wanted to honor two professors whose education and counsel had a lifelong impression on Doni. They made a gift of rental property they no longer wished to manage to establish a charitable remainder unitrust with Stanford as the remainder beneficiary. This decision provided them with a significant immediate charitable income tax benefit, as well as a steady income stream during their lifetimes.

“Making this gift came at the right time for us,” Sid says. “The housing market and tax advantages made it a good time to sell. Our goal has been to simplify our lives, and this does that.”

The Hubbard’s CPA worked directly with Stanford’s Office of Planned Giving to structure the gift so that 25 percent of the trust’s remainder interest will go to the Graduate School of Education, in honor of the late Professor Richard Gross, and another 25 percent will go to the Department of History in the School of Humanities and Sciences, in honor of the late Professor Otis Pease.

Archive photos of Prof Pease and Prof Gross

Professor Otis Pease (left) and Professor Richard Gross (right) inspired Stanford alum Doni Hubbard, AM ’68, and her husband Sid, to honor their memories with planned gifts to benefit Stanford in the future.

“Professor Gross was my teacher and counselor,” Doni says. “His devotion to his students and to the highest purposes of true education was well known, and I could never have thanked him enough.”

Professor Pease specialized in 20th-century American history and served as a long-time member of Stanford’s Board of Trustees. “I remember him as a great historian who communicated subject matter with memorable intelligent perspectives, warmth, and good humor,” she says.

The remaining 50 percent of their gift is unrestricted to Stanford University.

“We wanted no strings attached so that Stanford has freedom to use the gifts as needed,” says Doni. “We know how important it is to have funds at your disposal.”

Even today, Stanford continues to play an important role in both of their lives. 

“We are truly proud to be part of the Stanford family, and so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the many ways it helps foster purposeful lives.”

Doni, AM '68, and Sid Hubbard 

Through the years, the Hubbards have kept Stanford close in their lives. They have enjoyed many family trips through the Stanford Travel Program, and were delighted to have one of their daughters married at Memorial Church on campus—just as they were. And, of course, they are always rooting for the Cardinal. As Sid says, “We drop everything to watch Stanford sports, no matter what!”

Doni smiles in front of her painting on display

“‘Paint what you love,’ I was told. The more I paint, the more I love!” Award-winning artist, Doni Hubbard, AM ’68. 

Top image: Sunset on Serra Mall. Kaspars Sprogis / Courtesy Stanford News Service