Law Briefs: Alumni Ron & Phyllis West Donate $100K [GW Magazine]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
IN 1961, RON WEST (BS’58, JD’64), made a promise. Three years earlier, GW Law School awarded him a full scholarship and upon graduation he vowed to someday pay back the generous gift.
West accomplished his goal this year, thanks to the sale of stock from his old employer, MAMSI. He was the giant insurance company’s tax attorney and vice chairman of its board of directors since 1982. He helped take the company public in 1986, but in 1991 when the board voted to shifted the focus away from being doctor-controlled West made a decision.
“We represented hundreds of doctors, and it didn’t seem right,” says West, who cashed in his investment.
That left him with a hefty sum and “gave me the opportunity to pay back GW for everything it had done for me and my family,” says West, who met his wife Phyllis on campus.
She had earned a BA in secondary education in 1959, and a master’s in women’s studies in 1977, and says she was as gratified that her husband to be able to make the donation to their alma mater.
“When we realized we had all this money at our disposal, we knew right away where we wanted it to go,” says Phyllis. “We both feel strong ties to GW. We met many of our lifelong friends and were introduced to thoughts and ideas that influence our thinking to this day. We owe much to this university and giving back to it monetarily is our way of ensuring its continuation.”
The West’s set up their donation in the form of a Charitable Remainder Trust.
Here’s how it works: The couple transferred $100,000 into the Trust, then sold the stock and an independent manager who began investing the proceeds. Interest on the money will go to the couple for the remainder of their lives, but upon their deaths the fund money will go to the Law School.
Had they simply sold the stock, they would have paid a capital gains tax of 28 percent, plus state taxes of 9.6 percent. The taxes would have run about 38 cents on every dollar of gain—leaving them with $62,000.
By donating to the Trust, the West’s also received a charitable contribution deduction for more than $11,000 that they can use to offset their other taxable income.
In addition to GW, West has established similar trusts for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington—where he will be president next year.