A former California couple -- who graduated from Fort Hays State University, went west for careers in education and then returned to Kansas upon retirement -- announced in a news conference today that they have donated approximately $1 million to their charitable remainder unitrust to benefit their alma mater.
Richard and Dolores (Wills) Fischli both earned bachelor and master's degrees from FHSU and then taught in the Los Angeles Unified School System for many years. They grew up in rural Phillips County. Dolores was a graduate of Logan High School. Richard, who graduated from Speed High School, said he walked three and a half miles to high school and worked hard on the family farm.
"I was raised in the Dirty '30s," he said. "I know what hard times are; therefore, we are people who have saved. I believe in my heritage and the area where I grew up. That's where I began the fulfillment of my educational career. We also feel like we are benefiting the communities in this part of Kansas."
The Fischlis, now in their 80s, have led successful careers and been prudent with their finances.
"The actual amount that will come to the university is around $1 million," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said at the news conference.
President Hammond said the gift from the Fischlis illustrates both their generosity and the sort of forward-thinking attitude that characterizes FHSU. "They transferred the house they sold in California to the unitrust that they had established earlier with the FHSU Foundation. This allowed them to bypass capital gains tax, receive a charitable deduction for including FHSU and receive guaranteed income for life through the unitrust."
The Fischlis said they chose FHSU to be beneficiary of this trust because of their high regard for their careers as teachers. They credit much of their success to the education they received at FHSU.
In the 1940s, Richard attended FHSU but, because of the cost of college, alternated working and going to school when he could afford it. He also served a stint in the military and completed his bachelor's degree from FHSU in science in 1955 and his Master's in Education in 1957. During that time he and Dolores were married. Dolores earned her bachelor's degree in English in 1955 and a Master's in Theatre Arts in 1959, both from FHSU.
In 1960, they moved to California to advance their teaching careers and opportunities. He taught at Gaspar De Portola Junior High School for many years, and she taught at Westchester and El Camino Real High Schools. They retired from the Los Angeles Unified School System in the 1980s. After retirement, Richard was employed by California State University, Northridge, where he enjoyed his job of evaluating future teachers before they earned their teaching certificates.
They built their "dream home" in the Santa Monica Mountains in California. Both inherited family land in Kansas and Nebraska and purchased additional land over the years.
With no children, they decided to help other young people get an education and benefit the area where they were raised.
FHSU benefits from the Fischlis' trust now, on an annual basis, and their long-term commitment will ensure that this support continues in perpetuity. Students are already benefiting from their charitable spirit. They established scholarships 10 years ago that are awarded to students attending FHSU from Phillips County each year.
"I first met Richard and Dolores seven years ago in their home. Their passion, spirit and support will have an impact on students at Fort Hays State University for many, many years," FHSU Foundation President Tim Chapman said at the news conference.
The Fort Hays State University Foundation is an independent, non-profit corporation designated by the state of Kansas to receive gifts on behalf of the university. Anyone interested in contributing to FHSU may call the Foundation at 785-628-5620 or go online at http://foundation.fhsu.edu/. More information about the FHSU Leadership Circle is available at http://foundation.fhsu.edu/donor_recognition/leadership_circle.php.