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Keeping the Faith


Richard S. ’73 and Emily Howe Wilson ’72 returned to campus for Alumni Weekend in June. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

For 34 years, the Swarthmore education of Emily Howe Wilson ’72 caused tension with other managers in the Brown County Library system—for the right reasons.

“Ten years ago I suddenly realized it was because I was running my department by consensus when management didn’t think I should,” says Emily, now retired. “Until then I never realized the deep influence the College and that emphasis on Quaker values had on me.”

Emily and husband Richard S. Wilson ’73 met in an art history class at Swarthmore, and their 1974 wedding reception was the first noncollege function in the lobby of the then-new music hall. Students preparing for finals in the music library would walk out, have a glass of champagne punch, and return to studying. “I’ve always wondered how exams went that year,” Emily says.

In Wisconsin, Richard spun records as a radio station DJ. When daughter Abby came along (followed by son Chris), the couple decided it made more sense for Richard to be the stay-at-home parent. He later earned an MBA and now does part-time accounting for the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. Their flexible schedules allow the Wilsons to frequently travel both domestically and abroad.

Emily’s retirement has changed their financial needs from “saving” to “preserving.” That made establishing a charitable gift annuity an easy decision. Instead of leaving something to Swarthmore in their wills, giving the gift annuity allowed them to make the gift now and receive guaranteed income for life.

“As an investment, we have much greater faith that Swarthmore will still be here in 50 years, while the various banks and insurance companies that also sell annuities may not,” Richard says.

The tax benefits of the gift “mean we’re not paying taxes to support actions we don’t believe in,” Emily says. “With Swarthmore, we are supporting principles we believe in.”

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