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Wallace and Ina Gray's trust to benefit SC

There’s a story that circulates about Wallace and Ina Gray and the way they travel.

Before they pack for one of their globetrotting jaunts, the story goes, the Grays gather up the oldest clothes they have, and hit garage sales. Then they pack these clothes, and as they travel and the clothes get dirty, they throw them away.

And in this way they have gone to 57 countries around the world, returning with little laundry to do, and suitcases that are nearly empty.

Ina laughs as she talks about the story.

“We’ve scattered clothes all over the world,” she says. “It lets you keep your dirty clothes out of your suitcase, and as you travel your bags get lighter instead of heavier.”

This practice wouldn’t work if the Grays were the haute couture type, but they are not. They have spent their professional lives in not-for-profit employment (Wallace was a Southwestern College faculty member for 40 years, and Ina was executive director of the social science honorary Pi Gamma Mu for two decades). They’ve been frugal, and have spent their money on three priorities—church, education, and travel.

Now that frugality is leading to a major gift for the Southwestern College Builders of Excellence capital campaign. The Grays have made the college the beneficiary of their revocable living trust, with proceeds to be used for campus maintenance and grounds.

"A lot of times the larger projects attract the gifts--- they're just so visible," Wallace says. "You never hear of a name being put on a janitor's cap, but the phone and grounds are so important. We like to see the place kept up."

The trust will give the Grays a retirement income while providing the gift to the college that has been so important to them. It is, Wallace says, a logical end to a progression of attitudes.

"First, there's a consciousness that this college has done a lot for people, including me," he says. "Then, there's an awareness and gratitude for it. It's not a debt someone sends you a bill for and expects you to pay but it's a knowledge that you've benefited. So you want to take action."

And, like their traveling wardrobe, making a gift the way they did is efficient, the Grays say. ("Our financial planners say we're coming out ahead," Wallace says, strongly endorsing the use of planners in estate decisions.)

The progression of attitudes leading to generosity is found throughout their lives. As they travel, they've come to enjoy trips that make service a component of the trip. On one of their two trips to Kenya, for example, they visited a school just outside a big game preserve.

"It had to be one of the poorest schools in the world," Ina recalls. "There were 107 children in the first grade, in one room, with one teacher. Can you imagine?"

They've since been in contact with Rotarians in the capital city to see how they could be of service to this school.

"It's not the reason you take the trip, but sometimes you want to do something." Wallace adds.

Awareness. Gratitude. Action.

It's the way Wallace and Ina Gray are traveling---and living.

Awareness. Gratitude. Action.