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Learning to Lead


Lila and Richard Sussman

In 1947, traveling cross country wasn't easy, but that didn't stop Richard Sussman, AS '51, from making the journey from New York to Drake University.

Like many students in crowded universities across the United States, Sussman found himself in an unfamiliar part of the country. As he sees it, being somewhere new was one of the best parts of his learning experience.

"At the time, Des Moines was a very different culture than I knew growing up in New York City," he says. "Seeing things from another perspective and getting along with people who were different from me were the best learning experiences I had at Drake. It taught me how to be a leader."

After graduation, Sussman served during the Korean War where his ability to lead — and follow — was further refined. In 1954, he returned to New York and began a successful career with Mr. Steam, a Long Island-based manufacturer of apparel pressing machinery and, later, steam baths and saunas for the home. He met and married his late wife, Lila, in 1956. 

Honoring His Late Wife With a Lasting Gift
Today, after many years as a successful businessman, Sussman values the important role of leadership education. In 2011, he donated $1 million in honor of Lila to fund the Lila and Richard Sussman Endowment for Leadership, which will provide ongoing sponsorship of the leadership conferences attended by students enrolled in the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute. His generous gift will also fund the first renovation in 30 years of the Bulldog Theater, which will be renamed The Richard and Lila Sussman Theater. 

The impact of the Sussmans' generosity is profound. "Lila and I never considered ourselves philanthropists, but we knew we wanted to do something significant for Drake," he says. "It's not easy to give $1 million. It's a lot of money, even by today's standards."

"I worked with my accountant and attorney to determine a way that made financial sense for me to give a portion of my gift today and another portion through a charitable remainder trust," Sussman adds. "This allowed us to see the benefits of our support during our lifetime and maximize the impact of our philanthropy by deferring a portion of our commitment."

As an alumnus, Sussman has remained active with Drake throughout the years. His relationships with Drake students, faculty and staff are an important part of why he chose to make such a significant commitment to Drake. "I believe in education and am pleased to honor my late wife with this gift. I know where my support will help Drake and the people that will take care of it for us," he says.

You Can Make an Impact
When you make a planned gift—large or small—you can change the life of a Drake student forever. Contact John Amato at 515-271-2849 or to learn more. 

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Drake University 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 to Drake University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 2507 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

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 Drake 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 Drake 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 Drake 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 Drake where you agree to make a gift to Drake 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.

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