Former Faculty Leaves a Legacy and Receives Retirement Income

Back in 1964, Roger Sutherland was at a crossroads. He had the opportunity to teach at the University of Michigan or he could make a leap of faith to come to an upstart community college in Livonia, Michigan. After some deliberation, Roger chose the latter and never looked back. That upstart college was Schoolcraft and to this day, Roger reflects, "I was always very fortunate to be a part of the beginning of the college."

The Korean War veteran would go on to teach anatomy, physiology and biology during his 28-year career with Schoolcraft. Despite his many years as an instructor, Roger is best known for his passion for beekeeping. "It's funny how things evolve," he says fondly.

Roger had always been fascinated by bees and proposed an apiary-a small building intended to house beehives-to be built by the College. Then he threw himself into gleaning all there was to learn about beekeeping. He laughs at the memory and says, "I was a beekeeper for one year ... and repeated the mistakes for 44 more." Roger retired from teaching at Schoolcraft in 1992, but he hasn't given up his passion for beekeeping. The club he began in 1967 continues to be active through his efforts and meets regularly on campus.

A few years ago, Roger and his wife of 58 years, Mary, found themselves with a "ragtag" financial portfolio that wasn't working efficiently to better their golden years. The passing of a relative left the couple with an assortment of stocks, but cashing in the stocks would have triggered a significant taxable event due to federal capital gains tax laws.

Roger thought there might be a way to use the windfall to benefit the college that had been such a central part of his life. Though the Sutherlands could hardly be considered wealthy, they knew the modest inheritance allowed them some financial flexibility. Roger proudly boasts, "My wife and I are very frugal."

After sitting down with the Schoolcraft College Foundation, the Sutherlands realized there was an opportunity to help the College and provide themselves a steady stream of additional retirement income.

By setting up a Charitable Remainder Unitrust, the Sutherlands essentially "gave" their stocks to the Foundation in return for 20 years of consistent income. The couple opted for quarterly dividends to supplement their retirement finances. Additionally, there was the added benefit of five years of tax deductions for the Sutherlands. Roger describes the deductions as "tremendous" and a "win-win" for the couple and the College. The Foundation will be able to use Roger and Mary's gift to meet its future needs for scholarships and support of programs on campus.

"I have the best feeling for what we did," Roger insists. By working with the Foundation, the Sutherlands were able to reap maximum rewards while giving back to Schoolcraft. "I feel good about it all the time."

When the day comes for Roger to finally hand over his tiny beekeeping reins and step off the campus for the last time, he can do so knowing his legacy will continue long beyond his time at Schoolcraft College.


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