Brian Walter ('65)

A gift annuity to honor a memory

Brian WalterThe walls of Brian Walter's home are covered in stories. Whether it is a framed painting or picture by a favorite artist or a collection of local objects from around the world, each piece has a tale of where it was found and how it was acquired. Most of the stories are adventures that Brian, his wife, and his family lived. Some pictures are more functional than artistic, but those have the best story of all. Hanging in Brian's office, amongst his Bobcat decorations, are photographs of the oil refineries, petrochemical and coal gasification plants, and offshore production facilities that Brian built around the world.

Brian is a third generation Montanan and grew up in Sheridan, Montana, where he helped with his family's general store. The store has been open since 1889 and is still operated by Brian's cousin. Brian earned a civil engineering degree from MSU in 1956. He kept track of every penny that he spent his senior year (including tuition, books, food, rent, etc.) and the total amount was $595!! After he served in the military, Brian worked for Texaco as a project manager in exotic locales such as Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, Central America, England, Scotland and Saudi Arabia. When he retired at the age of 60, Brian returned to Montana.

Brian says his small town work ethic served him well; he was dependable, precise, and dedicated. Brian says he lived rather frugally and saved money. His wife used to tease him that he was "once a project manager, always a project manager!" His definition of a successful career is to be able to look back on his accomplishments, to provide for his family, and to give back to where he got started—in rural Montana and by earning his degree at MSU.

Recently Brian has created an endowed scholarship for the benefit of students from Sheridan High School or the Ruby Valley area who are studying at MSU. Brian gave mutual fund stock to the Montana State University Alumni Foundation to create a charitable gift annuity. A charitable gift annuity is a contract between Brian and the Foundation in which the Foundation agrees to pay Brian a fixed income for life. In exchange, the Foundation (a charitable, tax-exempt organization) will receive the value left in the annuity after Brian's lifetime. By using his mutual fund stock to create the charitable gift annuity, Brian reduced his potential income and capital gains taxes on the stock, guaranteed himself income for his lifetime, and established a scholarship for MSU students.

Additionally, Brian took advantage of being a Montana resident who gave to an endowment. In Montana, donors who establish a charitable gift annuity can benefit from the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, which allows a tax credit for up to $10,000 when a planned gift is used to support a qualified charitable endowment.

In Brian's case, a charitable gift annuity was a good way to avoid the unpredictability of the market, reduce his tax liability, and use the money to support a cause he really believes in: a degree from MSU. This is the second scholarship that Brian has created at MSU; the first is an endowed scholarship for a needy student from Montana studying Brian's major of civil engineering. After hearing how impactful the first scholarship has been to its recipients, he decided a charitable gift annuity was the best way to fund a second award.

Brian named this scholarship in honor of his cousin, Beverly Gross, who also graduated from Sheridan High School. When Beverly passed away at a young age, Brian inherited a portion of her estate. Rather than immediately spending the money, he invested it in a mutual fund and let it grow. Many years later, Brian has turned that same mutual fund into this charitable gift annuity and its resulting scholarship. Brian hopes that this scholarship will help students realize their dream of a college education and create their own wall of stories.

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