Skip to Content
Giving

Alumnus Honors a Determined and Gifted Classmate

By Mark Tarnacki

As Mike O'Brien '71 remembers it, alphabetical order in classes, housing or campus activities frequently placed him in a good position to observe and admire his determined and gifted classmate, Jim O'Connor '71.

Jim thrived academically and socially at Saint Michael's while living with cerebral palsy during an era when special accommodations were largely unheard of. His strength of character and uncomplaining positive attitude left a lasting impression on Mike and many other classmates, including Jerry Flanagan '71, now the College's vice president for enrollment.

That gang, including Jim, gathered several years ago for their annual tradition of attending a Purple Knights basketball game together. "Some of us got to thinking about and discussing what an inspiration Jim has been for all of us, and how we should do something to recognize that," Mike says. It was Andy "Mac" McElroy '71 who suggested that a scholarship in Jim's name would be just the right way to honor their courageous and inspirational classmate and friend.

That discussion launched a fundraising effort for the Jim O'Connor '71 Scholarship, which will "provide support for students with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities from the first year through graduation." The first student to receive this scholarship is Randy Forant '12 of Morrisville, Vt., who is a senior business major this year.

A GROWING ADMIRATION
In recent years, Mike says, his appreciation for Jim has been steadily growing. "I don't think we realized it until we got older what strength Jimmy had," Mike says. "O'Connor had a long and successful career until his recent retirement as a counselor and advocate for those with disabilities for the state of New York. Many of us went to his retirement party," Mike says. That recognition prompted Mike to make a generous life insurance beneficiary gift to the College that will ensure the long-term vigor of the Jim O'Connor '71 Scholarship, which is good news for future students with similar challenges as those faced by Jim and Randy.

Mike's gift through his life insurance policy also stipulates significant support for the athletic program at the College, which seems fitting, given his background and interests. Sports have been a big part of Mike's life since his days as Alumnus Honors a Determined and Gifted Classmate a student athlete, broadcaster and sports statistician, and later as a very successful Little League/Babe Ruth coach and prep basketball tournament organizer. Mike says Ed Markey, the College's former athletic director and baseball coach, was an important mentor and remains a close friend today.

Another factor that has reinforced Mike's connection to the College is that he is also a Saint Michael's parent: Mike's son, Matthew, who likewise played on the baseball team, graduated in the Class of 2008. Mike says he's deeply impressed with the leadership of the College in recent years. "The College is forever changing. One of the reasons I wanted to support it was that I enjoyed it so much as a student, and then my son enjoyed it so much too." Jim O'Connor's children, David '06 and Corinne '04, are also alumni.

In his professional life, Mike is president of Corporate Design Insurance Agency in Salem, MA specializing in municipal, school and sports insurance. He's been in the insurance business for over 37 years and also is still broadcasting local high school football, and was director of the North Shore Hoop Invitational high school basketball tournament for 14 years, raising over $100,000 in scholarship money.

MAKING A LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
Saint Michael's continues to have a special meaning for Mike. "I still attend three or four basketball games a year with Jerry and my classmates, and I have been participating in the Green Mountain Scholarship Golf Tournament each year since 1989," Mike says. "I just enjoy seeing friends and classmates who believe in the school like I do."

And as for his life insurance gift, Mike says, "A gift like this is a low-cost way to provide a big benefit to the school. With money the way it is now, every school struggles, so everything helps." A gift of life insurance can allow you to make a sizable gift in support of Saint Michael's without diminishing assets designated for family and loved ones. Learn more about this and other ways to give at www.smcvt.edu/giftplanning or contact us at 802-654-2646.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

Learn What Matters

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Saint Michael's College a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

“I give, bequeath, and devise to Saint Michael’s College, an educational organization established by law at One Winooski Park, Box 256, Colchester, Vermont 05439, whose Federal Tax ID number is 03-0179403 [here follows the dollar amount or percentage of the gift, or an accurate description of the securities, insurance policies, retirement funds, or the amount or percentage of the residual estate, or the real estate or other assets given].”

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Saint Michael's College or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Michael's College as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Michael's College as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Saint Michael's College where you agree to make a gift to Saint Michael's College and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.