Judy Bradley and Dave Mitchell: Making a Greater Impact with a Planned Gift

Judy Bradley and Dave Mitchell

Judy and Dave have made PSU a beneficiary of their estate plan in support of the Honors College and are members of the Epler Society. Named for PSU founder Stephen E. Epler and his wife Ferne, the Epler Society honors donors who include the university in their estate plans.

What does PSU mean to each of you?

Even though I’m neither a PSU alum nor a paying student, I’ve developed a deep connection with PSU as a senior auditor. This privilege has enriched my life profoundly, and I’m grateful to PSU for the generous way it welcomes seniors into the University’s programs. And as I’ve gotten to know the student population better through auditing, I’ve grown to respect PSU’s efforts to seek out and accommodate many different types of students who otherwise might not have an opportunity to attend college. PSU is a very welcoming, warm, and accessible place to learn.

Attending college was a transformational experience for me — intellectually and socially. It opened my mind to new ideas and diverse viewpoints, and it created a strong foundation for my professional career in fund raising in higher education and medical research. In a similar way, PSU offers experiences that will transform students’ lives in ways they can’t predict. The quality of classroom instruction and personal attention which I’ve experienced as an auditor has been truly outstanding. The bottom line is that PSU is an amazing asset for the greater Portland area and the nation as well. It deserves strong support from those who share its mission.    

What do you like to do in your free time?

I define “retirement” as finally having the free time to do what one has yearned to do for a very long time. I worked full-time for 45 years after graduating from college, never taking a vacation of more than 10 days at a time. I postponed a lot of things that I’ve been rediscovering since cutting back to part-time work three years ago. Reading nonfiction for pleasure, particularly history and politics, is one of them. Judy and I love attending plays at Portland Center Stage and various events at the Portland Art Museum. I’m also an avid lap swimmer, and several days a week you can find me in the pool at PSU’s Rec Center.  Walking and hiking are other activities that both Judy and I share, and we try to work this into our lives in any way we can, from local walking tours, to exploring local parks, to maintaining a 38-year tradition of returning to the Tetons and Yellowstone nearly every summer.

Before we moved to Portland and adopted condo living, my life in retirement had been focused largely on tending a huge garden of both ornamentals and edibles, and being involved in several horticultural organizations. The constraints of a tiny condo balcony squelched those pursuits, but it happily freed me to explore classes at PSU as a senior auditor. So I’ve been dipping into everything from Japanese literature, to African history, to historical geology, and accumulating a long wish list of future courses to take. When not reading for class, I’m also squeezing in books for a couple of book clubs I attend. Retirement has also opened many doors to volunteering in the community, and both Dave and I have been active our neighborhood association, tackling various livability issues. And then there is the lure of being outdoors and enjoying the chance to exercise our legs as Dave just described.

Why have you chosen to make a planned gift to PSU?

First of all, including PSU in our estate is part of a broad plan we’ve developed to show our appreciation to several nonprofit organizations that have had an impact on the quality of our lives. Although we support these same organizations with regular annual gifts too, living on a fixed retirement income limits our ability to be as generous as we’d like from year to year. Although we won’t be around to see our bequest come to fruition, giving this way enables us to make a gift to PSU that will have a much greater impact than we can achieve through our annual gifts.

Because both Dave and I have had lifelong careers in nonprofit fund raising, we may be more conscious than most of the value of doing estate planning. It’s disturbing to know that well more than half the population dies with no will at all, which means they lose control over how their estate’s assets are distributed. We like the idea of being in the driver’s seat so that we can direct significant gifts to the causes and the people we cherish.

We understand that the majority of PSU’s students hold down part-time jobs — some even full-time jobs — while working toward their degrees. And we greatly admire PSU’s strong commitment to provide scholarships to encourage and support its students. So we decided to direct our bequest toward establishing an endowed scholarship for students in PSU's Honors College. We hope that our gift will make at least a small dent in the number of students who must hold down jobs while studying. And as Judy said, it makes financial sense for us to defer making large gifts now because of what we need to live on. But when we’ve passed, we’d much prefer for PSU and other worthy charitable organizations to share in our estate rather than to see a big chunk of our funds subject to state and federal estate taxes.

For more information about making a planned gift and joining the Epler Society, please contact Mike Conway, Director of Gift Planning at 503-725-8307, conwaym@psuf.org.