Walsh College

Donor Stories

Students, Relationships Matter to Walsh Accounting Alumnus Kevin Carmody

Although Kevin Carmody, a 1985 Walsh College Bachelor of Accountancy graduate, now lives 1,300 miles away in Houston, Texas, his heart still beats mightily for Walsh College students and their quest to finance their education.
  The former Farmington Hills resident grew up in a family of nine siblings. He shared an apartment with his brother, pumped gas and taught racquetball at the local YMCA, among other jobs, to make ends meet.
  Although he had applied for and received three separate scholarships, the grants amounted to only a few hundred dollars. But for a struggling student, it made the difference in completing his education.
  “When those checks arrived in the mail, they brought tears to my eyes,” he said. “They meant a lot to me.”
  That memory has resulted in a newly cemented relationship with his alma mater through his establishment of the Kevin J. Carmody Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate accounting students.
  “Now that I am in a position to do so, I am proud to give back to Walsh through the scholarship for students facing the same situation that I did,” he said.
  In fact, one of the scholarship programs from which Carmody benefited as a student still exists today – the Archie D. Waring Scholarship.
  Carmody provided an initial gift to establish the endowment and to award the first-year scholarship. He also made a provision in his estate plan to provide a bequest through his Individual Retirement Account to supplement the scholarship.
  Carmody’s career began in public accounting, where he became a CPA, and eventually took him through a series of increasingly responsible accounting and management positions with companies in Michigan, Arizona and, ultimately, to his current home in Texas.
  He recalled many peers and colleagues who graduated from other colleges and universities had little knowledge about Walsh or its well-regarded accounting students.
  Carmody became an enthusiastic advocate for Walsh within his community.
“There are a lot of great schools out there all over the country,” explained Carmody. “I frequently found myself explaining the purpose and prestige of the College.”
  He encourages fellow alumni to follow his lead and support Walsh. “We are a distinguished group. It is important to leave a legacy of recognized achievement in the business community beyond spirit and heart,” he said.
  Carmody said one of the most valuable lessons he learned from Walsh faculty is the role of ethics in business. “I took those lessons from my instructors and applied them to decisions I made throughout my career for myself and my firms,” he noted.
  He added that he appreciated the influence of faculty members Rick Berschback, Mark Solomon, Ted Hoffman and Robert Shanahan.
  “They became my role models,” Carmody said.
  Now an independent consultant, Carmody returned to Walsh last fall for the first time in three decades for a visit to the Troy campus and to attend Oktoberfest, the College’s annual event for students and alumni.
  Thanks to his generosity, the distance between Houston and Detroit has never been shorter.

Walsh Relationships: From the Classroom to the Altar

Kevin and Rebecca Hepner’s personal relationship began while earning their MBAs at Walsh; they know their future includes a long-lasting relationship with the College.
  Their relationship began by chance. They were both enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at Walsh and taking an international business class.
  “It wasn’t a typical class,” Rebecca recalled of her first meeting with Kevin Hepner. “It was a social setting, like a field trip, and we had a chance to get to know each other.”
  What started as a chance meeting in that class has turned into a seven-year relationship, the last three as a married couple.
  They are foster parents, successful professionals and avid travelers. Above all else, they have a mutual respect for one another.
  “I love his work ethic,” Rebecca said of Kevin.
  “I love how similar we are,” Kevin said of Rebecca. “We love to travel; we love our dog; and we have a very good work-life balance.”
  They now call themselves “Team Hepner.” They are partners in every sense of the word. They even share a passion for their alma mater.
  When asked where they see themselves in 10 years, aside from Rebecca’s response of “celebrating our 13-year anniversary and raising our family,” both mentioned having a deeper relationship with Walsh College.
  “I’d like to teach at Walsh one day,” said Kevin, who earned his BBA-FIN ’02 and MBA ’09 at Walsh College and is a financial advisor with TruVista Wealth Advisors. He was also recently appointed to the Walsh College Foundation Board.
  “We are ‘Walshies,’” added Rebecca, who also earned her BBA-MGT ’04 and MBA ’07 at Walsh and is the director of donor relations for The Salvation Army. “We would both like to support Walsh College at a higher level in the coming years.”
  Kevin and Rebecca are already members of the President’s Club, the College’s donor-recognition society.
  They are also both members of the Archie Waring Society, having designated Walsh College as a beneficiary of their estate plans.
  The Hepners are a perfect example of the type of relationships that can be found at Walsh. They found each other, and they have found a profound respect for all that the College represents.
  “I loved that I could keep building my career and earn my education at the same time,” said Kevin. “And with four semesters (per school year), I could get it done quickly. It was a perfect fit for me.”
  “I love the atmosphere at Walsh, and the quality of education we both received,” added Rebecca, who once worked at Walsh as the manager of Alumni and Annual Giving.
  From the classroom to the altar, and from students in search of MBAs to the formation of “Team Hepner,” Kevin and Rebecca found each other, and their futures, at Walsh College.

Alumni Couple Offer Walsh College Their Time and Treasure

The decision to give back to the Walsh community was, in fact, easy for the Harders.
  The Walsh College alumni couple has always made it a life priority to invest their time and talents to community service for the greater good. But they recently decided to elevate that value of personal commitment to their alma mater with a substantial planned gift to Walsh College.
  Dennis Harder (MSDF, ’97) and Christine Harder (BBA ,’99) have enjoyed successful business careers. Dennis is managing director and head, Middle Management Banking, at The Private Bank and Trust Co., and Christine is vice president, Health Alliance Plan.
  A combined sense of purpose to share their skills and resources guides them.
  “Christine and I have a thought-process around giving back,” Dennis said.
  “We serve on a number of boards and participate in a number of campaigns around Detroit. As Walsh alumni, it makes sense to us to help someone else. There are a lot of people in different situations that need our support.”
  Dennis noted that Walsh was good to him as a student, and he benefited from several scholarships.
  “I got to know a lot of the professors, many of whom I still count as friends,” Dennis said. “I built a lot of relationships with the administrative staff as well, and got involved in a lot of activities at Walsh such as the Economics Club. The strength of most institutions is built through people, and Walsh was no different for me.”
  “I am extremely proud to be a Walsh alumna,” Christine added. “There is such a sense of community here at Walsh. It has given us both a great education. It’s important that we ‘pay it forward.’”
  As alumni, the Harders are proud that the College and its students have continued to build a reputation for business education excellence. And their involvement remains immeasurable.
  For example, Dennis, the vice chairman of the Walsh College Foundation Board of Directors, chairs the leadership awards dinner and other social events.
  He has also served as an adjunct professor for more than 13 years.
  Dennis and Christine are also long-term members of The President’s Club, the College’s donor-recognition society.
  Dennis has a simple philosophy about the best attribute for a business professional: The most successful people in business are the hardest working people.
  “As a teacher at Walsh, I always encouraged my students to strive for that next level, because there is never a shortage of average students,” he said.
  Several Walsh students are among the high achievers he has hired for his firm throughout the years.
Giving back and getting back. The Harders’ Walsh College legacy is palpable.

A Gift from Lawrence Green, Who 'Believed in Education'

There is no greater compliment to a college or university than to receive a planned gift from an estate. It is the final acknowledgment to the institution for maintaining its reputable standing in the community and for providing the foundation for many successful careers.
  It is an even greater compliment when the gift comes from someone other than an alumnus, a member of its faculty or staff, or part of its leadership team.
  That was the case when Walsh College received a $500,000 gift from the estate of Lawrence Green. His attorney and friend, Jim Brenner, notified Walsh of the gift following Green’s passing in the summer of 2016.
  Though Green had no familial or formal ties to Walsh, Brenner said that Green respected the College’s reputation in the business community, saying that it “reflected his values.”
  Brenner added that Green “believed in education” and its role in molding new leaders in business.
  “He saw education as an independent institution for everyone,” Brenner said of his friend and classmate.
  Green grew up in Detroit and attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Detroit (now University of Detroit Mercy).
  Green lived in Farmington Hills and spent the majority of his career in the mortgage banking industry. Brenner said he “had a passion for the stock market” and spent his final working years shoring up his investment portfolio.
  Brenner called Green a “man of great courage” who led a solitary life but kept in close contact with his friends. Brenner said Green, who had no immediate family at the time of his passing, admired Walsh College greatly, and that’s why it was one of the four educational institutions included in his estate planning. Also receiving gifts were Hillsdale College, Northwood University and Novi Detroit Catholic Central High School.

Touch the Future with Your Estate Plan

Martha sat in her attorney's office describing her plans for the distribution of her estate.
   "Well, let's see now. I want to leave the crystal to my sister Harriet. I should do something for my brother Charles, although he's so successful he really doesn't need an inheritance from me. I'll just leave him a token of my affection - perhaps the grandfather clock from my husband's estate.
   "I want to provide generously for my son, Tim, and my daughter, Julie," Martha continued, "but I'm not sure it's necessary, or even a good idea, to leave them all of my estate. We taught them to work hard and be self-reliant and nothing should change that.
   "Now there are three others I need to tell you about . . . and they are very unusual," she added slyly. On hearing those words her attorney leaned closer and Martha went on:
   "Oh, yes. These people tell me they never have to pay income taxes. Not only that, I never have to pay gift taxes or estate taxes on anything I give to them. But here's what is even more interesting: Whenever I make gifts to them, I get to write it off on my income taxes!" Martha smiled at her attorney's puzzled expression and finally confided that these "people" actually were several worthwhile not-for-profit organizations (including us).
   Increasingly, people like Martha are telling their advisers: "My children are grown, educated and on their own. I have given them a good start in life. I want to provide for them after my death but I don't feel I need to leave my children everything.
   "I would do them no favors by giving them an instant fortune. I've worked hard; I've been successful; life's been good to me. Now I want to give something back. I want to do something for humanity. It's a matter of my personal philosophy."
   For these individuals, their charitable beneficiaries - schools, houses of worship, health institutions, social service organizations, cultural foundations or others - may be every bit as important as the natural objects of their bounty. And if that's the case, then some remarkable estate planning ideas are possible. Our staff would be pleased to help explore ways by which you can add immense personal satisfaction to your plans - plans that make the statement: "I was here. My life was important. I made a difference."

A Case Study in Charitable Estate Planning

Occasionally one hears of a situation that evokes the thought: "This is what estate planning is all about!" Sylvia is a 77-year-old retired teacher who has always lived frugally. She has amassed, through purchase and inheritance, the sum of just over $620,000 in U.S. savings bonds (Series E and EE). She's unmarried, but has three brothers she wants to benefit. She also told her attorney she wants to provide for the future of important organizations, including us.
   Sylvia’s attorney didn't know the exact amount of unreported interest tied up in the savings bonds, but estimated that it exceeded $300,000. He explained to Sylvia that, although her estate is not subject to tax, the bonds will be taxable in her estate or in the hands of family members who receive the bonds – meaning they will be subject to income tax on all accumulated interest. More than $70,000 would be lost in federal income taxes alone, assuming heirs are in a 24% tax bracket. The bonds' value also would be subject to federal estate tax. Solution? Sylvia's attorney suggested she establish a charitable remainder unitrust in her will and specify that the trust will be funded with the savings bonds. The trust would last for 20 years and make payments to her brothers (or to the children of any brother who dies prior to termination of the trust). Tax results?
   “First of all,” her attorney explained, “there won't be any income taxes on the savings bonds when they are cashed in by the trustee, because the unitrust is tax exempt. The interest on the bonds will be passed through to your brothers as part of their annual unitrust payments and taxed as ordinary income. But the trust doesn't lose anything to tax.” Sylvia liked the idea of reducing taxes, but was particularly pleased that her brothers would start receiving income from a larger asset pool. Most satisfying was her ability to provide about $620,000 (or more) to worthwhile causes when the trust ends.

A "Temporary Gift" That Beats Estate Taxes

Evelyn, age 70, worked side-by-side with her husband, Raymond, in the printing business for nearly 40 years.  They sold the business for $26 million several years before Raymond’s death, and Evelyn never remarried.  Her own health is reasonable good. Evelyn has two daughters, ages 36 and 40.
  “I want to make sure my children don’t lose too much to taxes when I’m gone,” Evelyn said to her attorney, “and I’d also like to do something in Ray’s memory.”
  Her attorney was familiar with a special charitable giving plan called the charitable lead trust that has a unique ability to reduce or eliminate gift and estate taxes. He put together some “what-if” numbers for Evelyn:
   “You could transfer, say, $20 million of securities to a trust that will pay exactly $1,200,000 annually for 25 years to qualified organizations,” he began. “At the end of the 25 years your daughters would receive all the trust assets. If the trust investments follow historic patterns, we would expect to have more than $40 million in the trust by that time, even with the $1,200,000 payout to charity. Of course, there are no guarantees.
   “There would be a gift tax return to file, but you wouldn't owe any tax because of a large gift tax charitable deduction,” he continued, “and there would be no estate tax on the trust assets either, even if the children eventually receive more than the original $20 million.”
   Evelyn replied that she liked the idea of relocating a large part of her estate out of range of estate taxes, especially when it meant a huge bequest to support our organization ($30 million over 25 years), all in Raymond’s memory.