Sisters Benefit Lipscomb through Gift Annuities
by G. David England
Sisters, sisters there were never such devoted sisters...
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and the sun
If you're a fan of the movie "White Christmas," you can probably remember this grand old Irving Berlin song. But as sisters go, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen had nothing on two real sisters -- Evalena Tobaben and Ruth Frey of Louisville, Ky.
These sisters, both widows, have a remarkably close relationship that each wishes all sisters could emulate, even to their "investments" in the young people at Lipscomb University.
Both have set up charitable gift annuities through Lipscomb. In short, a gift annuity works this way: a donor contributes a sum of money to a charity and receives an annual income as long as the donor lives. The donor also is entitled to an income tax deduction, and part of the annual income is tax free because it is considered "return of principal." Upon the donor's death, the original gift goes completely to the charity.
But the sisters don't see their arrangements with Lipscomb as gifts -- partly because they receive an income through the arrangements, but mostly because they believe they're investing in the futures of young people attending the university.
Although both knew of Lipscomb through their church associations in Louisville while growing up, neither attended college. Ruth started the sisters' association with Lipscomb by setting up the first of several gift annuities through the school. Then she began attending the Lipscomb Hostel.
"I started coming and I only missed once. Lipscomb has just kind of grown on me. I love coming down here and being on campus and being with the people that take charge of the Hostel and I have also gone on several [Friends of Lipscomb] trips with the group," Ruth said.
Because she enjoyed Hostel so much, she introduced the idea to her sister. Now they attend together, and Evalena has also set up gift annuities through Lipscomb.
"I've always realized education was important," Evalena said, "and I felt like I wanted to do something and be a part of it and see the results of what I invested. I'm not saying I gave to Lipscomb. I'm saying I am investing in Lipscomb because I receive, through charitable gift annuities, an income. I'm investing because I have faith that Lipscomb upholds the beliefs of integrity, honesty and moral values.
"I hope that someday people my age will realize how wonderful it is to see the results of what you've given or invested in. And when we come up to elder Hostel and I walk these sidewalks or go into the buildings, I feel like maybe, just maybe, one child has the opportunity through a little bit that I invested. And I feel proud, too, because Lipscomb does it up right when they do it," Evalena said.
Hostel is not the only thing the sisters do together. They talk every day. And they have "a very unique thing going that might be a suggestion for other sisters," Evalena said.
"We have a 'bed and breakfast' deal on at least one night during the week. I go to the Senior Citizens [center], then I come by Ruthie's house. We cook supper together and probably watch some kind of taped program off the History Channel or educational channel, I sleep there, then we fix breakfast, and then we each go our separate ways.
"Another idea we have - she doesn't like to take the newspaper and I do," Evalena said. "So I edit the newspaper, mark it in red, then hand it to her, and you'd be surprised how much conversation it creates between us and we discuss the articles. I don't think there could be a money value put on an association with your sister, and I wish that everyone had a sister like I do. I love her very dearly."
They even agree that they weren't always close. As children, the usual youthful irritations tugged at their sisterly bonds.
"I always gave Ruth the idea that she was in the way and I guess she was because she was four years younger than I am," Evalena confessed. "But since the death of my husband, we have grown much, much closer and we're thankful every day that we have each other."
Ruth concurred. "If anybody would've said we would be as close as we are now, I would have said 'You are completely out of your tree.' It is unbelievable how close we have become since we are both widows. We check on one another every morning on the phone. It is a wonderful thing, and it seems like there's something between us that we know what the other one's thinking about all the time."
While their husbands were living, both women worked outside the home. Ruth worked in the heating and air conditioning business of their father, Leonard Tyler, for 30 years. Evalena worked in "several small jobs" including a few years with Standard Oil, and with her husband, Hugh, built and sold two dry cleaning and laundry stores, then ran a Laundromat. "What was my primary job? Doing everybody else's wash and charging them for it. You might say we kind of took people to the cleaners," she said as she and her sister laughed. "It was a hard job and you don't make a lot of money on 75-cent washers. But we did all right."
"It was a good education to run a small business," Ruth added. "I enjoyed it very much. It was operated out of our [family] residence so I got to go home every day."
Lipscomb's Hostel continues to be a highlight for both each year.
"When you come to a Lipscomb Summer Hostel, they have pre-planned everything for us and it's all first-class. The food, our side trips, where we go to church on Wednesday night, the togetherness of the people. We have made some nice friends with some of the other women that come to the Hostel. It's just a good time. We enjoy the classes," Ruth said. "Oh, I wanted to say that the food's great and you always take home a few extra pounds!"
Evalena said that maybe one thing wasn't quite first-class. Fanning Hall keeps you dry and cool. "But who comes to the Hostel to sit in their room anyway? As long as they have a place to take a bath and a good bed, who cares? "
She also encouraged people in her age group to consider gift annuities. "I'm going to say that people between the ages of 60 to 80 should definitely look into charitable gift annuities. Have someone explain to you that the income you will be getting is for your life, and then you know exactly where this gift is going. Another way I look at it is that no one else can get to it but Lipscomb University," Evalena said, with emphasis.
* Lipscomb University is not registered to offer charitable gift annuities in all 50 states. *