Meet Our Donors
We thank all our planned-gift donors for their generous support. Here are some of their stories.
Margot Childs Cheel '63
I read recently that life is measured in three stages: learning, earning and returning. Having co-chaired our class' 50th Reunion, I was reminded of Garrison's significant part in that process. The learning years at GFS gave challenge and support which carried into leadership and responsibility in the earning phase. Now I am pleased to give back to Garrison in return.... for planting the seeds of who I have become.
My father planned well for his family. My gift to Garrison with a charitable gift annuity is through stocks from his company. They helped pay for my education; now I can pass it on to future students and continue the legacy of educational excellence at Garrison Forest School.
Poppy Hall '07
When I first visited Garrison, I was five years old and moving to the States from London. I was used to strict rules and very little fun in my English School. I remember walking into the GFS Preschool with my mom, Leigh McDonald Hall ('81), and watching in shock as the kids threw off their winter coats, played and laughed loudly with their friends. It was pure craziness. I looked at my mom and said in amazement, "WHAT are they DOING?" Her response: "They're having fun, Poppy. Do you think you can do that?" All I had to do was smile and nod. While that was my first memory of the Forest, that pretty much sums up my experience there...the best of times with my great friends.
Holly Munger Book '71
Garrison Forest gave me so much more than an academic education. It laid an emotional and spiritual foundation for me that I have never forgotten, and I have been able to build on that over the years. From the simple memories like slathering butter and brown sugar on saltine crackers at recess and sock hops at Meadowood…to the deeper gifts like amazing teachers and chapel services run by the students…for all of it, I am truly grateful.
Elizabeth Piper '88
Garrison has always been on the top of my annual giving list but I was never able to give as much as I would like. In thinking about what the school has given me over the years, I wanted to do more. Designating Garrison as the benficiary of my retirement plan was a way to increase my support and it only took two minutes online! Garrison was my world for 14 years and prepared me well for who I am today. It's important that the rich spirit and traditions of Garrison are preserved for Garrison girls of tomorrow.
If put to the test, I could relate dozens of reasons why I love this beautiful campus, this supportive community, and this incredible school. But I think the most omnipresent is the "Garrison Spirit." This is embodied most for me every morning during the School year when I walk past Moncrieffe and witness the youngest of our students racing up the sidewalk, facing the day with youthful exuberance, smiling and giggling, hugs and kisses for moms and dads. How can you fail to catch that karma and not carry it with you all day long? Every day I feel fortunate to be a part of that energy and this remarkable school, and by joining the Marshall-Offutt Circle, I will continue to support the institution I love after my adventure on earth has ended!
Mary Page Stewart
When I was asked to join the Marshall-Offutt Circle, my initial reaction was that I couldn't possibly do it. When all the options were explained, however, I realized that it is not only easy, it makes so much sense!
When I was hired by Ann Gray as an assistant teacher for the 3-year old program, it was the beginning of the career I had always dreamed of. I had found a second home for my family, and as I write this it was over 19 years ago; my daughter is 25 and my son is 22 and I've been married to my husband for over 30 years. Where did the time go? It was time well invested in a wonderful place where I have been mentored by scores of amazing colleagues. Ann Gray and Virginia Berrier guided me in the world of early childhood education and Rufus Davis let me be her volunteer assistant in the afternoons. I learned from Rufus that my dream of being an art teacher could come to fruition. Garrison got into my heart all that time ago, and I hope that somehow, in my teaching loads of great kids, I've gotten into the heart of Garrison.
Twenty-four years ago Aggie Underwood hired me - a doctoral candidate looking for temporary employment - as a one-year substitute to teach Seventh and Eighth Grade Latin. Having now spent nearly half my life at GFS, I still haven't graduated from Middle School. My students, however, continually move up, up, and away. I credit my slow progress to the wonderful curiosity, vivacity, and humor of my young scholars and the amazing camaraderie of faculty and staff colleagues. I enjoy my niche in the middle where young minds develop habits of thought and expression that presage the great achievements of full maturity. There is never a dull moment and rarely a quiet one in the controlled chaos of Middle School life. This creative energy eventually gets channeled and transformed in ways that neither teachers nor students could have predicted. I was expecting Garrison Forest School to be the beginning of my career; it has turned into my entire career, and I can't imagine a better path. By including GFS in my estate plan, I hope to honor the dedication and discipline of the many students who have cheerfully dwelt for a while with the noble Romans.
Ann S. Lowell
Garrison gave me a freedom in teaching that I did not experience elsewhere. I cared for my four-year-old students, and was nurtured in turn by my colleagues and administrators. I look back at those Garrison years with great pleasure – such happy memories. When writing my will, I wanted to thank Garrison for believing in me.
Nancy Parker Welbourn
Garrison was the love of my youth. Nancy Offutt hired me when I was 20, and I spent six-and-a-half happy years as a residential faculty member doing secretarial work in the morning, teaching riding in the afternoon and drama at night. I also tutored students in Latin, English, history, and whatever else they needed. My father had refused to send me to college because he said that women didn't need an education (!), so when I was drawing up my will, I wanted to provide support for an institution that would prepare young women to be leaders. What better place than the School that had nurtured me in my formative years?
Sally Mann '52
My five years as a boarding student at Garrison Forest were very happy, full of growth and friendship, but it was to be many years before I would recognize my full capabilities and allow myself to express the talents which lay hidden behind a wall of reserve as a result of a very conservative upbringing. So, I cannot say that I left Garrison ready to embark upon great things, by any means. Partly that was just who I was and partly that was the era. However, in retrospect I have realized that the qualities of character which Miss Marshall and Miss Offut expressed, each so delightfully individually, and which were and obviously still are the backbone of the School and its marvelous spirit, have stood with me and fortified me in all my endeavors over the years since. I feel very fortunate to have been nurtured in such an environment and grateful to be able to support its continuation, particularly in the challenging times we are experiencing.
Catherine "Kit" Jackson '83
Garrison gave me a wonderful education and lifelong friends: the lessons I learned in and out of the classroom were fundamental in making me who I am today.
I had been meaning to join the Marshall-Offutt Circle for a long time but just kept putting it off. When I learned that I could join simply by making the School a beneficiary of my IRA, I jumped at the chance. Designating a nonprofit organization like Garrison Forest as the beneficiary of a retirement account makes enormous sense and it couldn't be easier.
I have always been a strong believer in the Annual Fund, but now I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am providing for Garrison students for generations to come. It's a great feeling.
Kitty Chaplin Martin '43
I am so delighted to see that the Service League, started by the Class of 1943, has endured and grown. My mentors at Garrison: Miss Marshall, Miss Offutt, the Rev. Jensen and so many more provided a home away from home. The very atmosphere at Garrison gave me enough confidence to raise five wonderful kids and to pursue an active volunteer career of 50+ years with the Red Cross. A college degree was not an option when I graduated. A GFS diploma was enough to open any door to further education, and the Red Cross training took over from there. Friendships at Garrison have lasted a lifetime, making the bumps in the road a lot smoother. Thank you, Garrison, for everything.
Shirley Aldrich Daiger '47
Garrison Forest was one of the happiest experiences of my life. Thanks to my very special teachers and friends, I gained some self-confidence; my faith deepened; and I was encouraged to lead a life according to our school motto, Esse Quam Videri. Remembering the School in my will is my way of saying thank you for a lifetime of wonderful memories.
Eleanor Shriver Magee '89
I learned about the importance of estate planning too early in life. When I lost my sister to cancer in 1997, I was reminded of my own mortality and the need to prepare for the future of my family. Being able to support GFS now and in the future is something that brings me great pride. I also hope that my proactivity will also be an example to other younger alums that it is never too early to plan for the future.
Crystal Lee '96
I often wonder what I have done to deserve the wonderful things Garrison Forest brings to my life. I have made my greatest friends because of Garrison Forest. I have had the greatest teachers (in and out of the classroom), and have learned my most valuable lessons at Garrison Forest. Countless times I have thought about what I could do to for my School over and above my annual support. I was absolutely delighted when I learned how easy it can be to join the Marshall-Offutt Circle. I have listed Garrison Forest as a beneficiary of a portion of my retirement plan. It took me about five minutes to complete the form, but the fulfillment I feel is eternal. Garrison Forest is my School, my job, and my home.
Sally Hoff Thomas '81
Looking back and looking forward, that is why GFS is part of my estate plan. Garrison gave me a rich academic foundation that prepared me for college and my career. But even more lasting has been the gift of being educated in an atmosphere of integrity and connectedness by excellent teachers alongside lifelong friends; Garrison enriches my life each day.
Laura Franklin Dunn '47
Garrison Forest gave me a wonderful foundation from which I have drawn to get through several life challenges. Funding a charitable gift annuity with the School is my way of thanking Garrison for the major part it has played in my life.
Tania Lawson-Johnston McCleery '71
It wasn't until years after graduation that I recognized the impact GFS had on me and my adult life. I went away to school as a shy, insecure girl looking for a place where I felt I would "fit in". I didn't realize it during my years there, but later appreciated the self-confidence I had gained and the sense of security I had grown to know in life-long friendships. The relationships and education I received have stayed with me, and my appreciation for Garrison and its "gifts" have become embedded in who I am.
The wonderful years I spent on the Board at GFS have taught me the importance of giving back to the School financially. Although I try to be generous every year to the Annual Fund, I get frustrated that I can't be more generous at this time in my life. By putting GFS in my will, I now have the confidence that I can give more to a place that has given me so much.
Molly Polk '92
Garrison Forest holds a very special place in my heart. I arrived on campus as a shy, homesick 14 year-old kid from a dusty West Texas town.
Three years later I graduated with a better sense of the world and confident that I could accomplish anything I set out to do. The principles Garrison taught me are ones I carry with me every day. I have always wanted to thank the School for everything it gave me and there is no better way than to remember Garrison Forest in my will.
Lila Boyce Lohr '63
I've come to believe that who we are and what we value is often determined early in our lives. Seeds are planted by our families but pruned and nurtured by our peers and teachers. At Garrison we learned to weigh alternatives, make choices, and live with the consequences of our decisions. We left with curiosity, confidence in our ability to express ourselves, an appetite for adventure, and a commitment to our communities.
My charitable gift annuity is my way of saying thank you to GFS for the way it has shaped my life. While I'll never be able to donate a wing for the new Middle School, this annuity has allowed me to make a larger gift than I ever thought possible. I couldn't be more pleased.
Katharine McLane Hoffman '37
There are many words to describe Kitty Hoffman, but one that comes to mind instantly is ubiquitous. She seems to be everywhere - all at the same time! For the past 70 years, Garrison Forest School has been blessed to be on her "to-do" list.
She has often said that her years as a student here were a very strong influence in her life, and she has spent many years giving back to her beloved GFS.
During World War II, Kitty volunteered in the Red Cross on posts in New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, providing support for the troops on the line. After the war, she returned to the United States and to her previous professional positions in insurance and interior design. But her passion was riding. In 1964, after the tragic death of her sister Ethel, class of '38, Kitty was hired to carry on her sister's work at Garrison. For the next 12 years she taught hundreds of students, many of whom she still sees, and she has come to know their children as well.
Kitty is a familiar presence on the GFS campus as a dedicated Annual Fund volunteer and participant in Alumnae events, including every Reunion Weekend and Commencement. She supports the school every year with a generous gift to the Alumnae Fund and has shown her commitment to its future by including Garrison Forest in her estate plans and becoming a member of the Marshall-Offutt Circle.
Margaret Gould Tyson '39
Dr. Tyson, the first woman dean at the University of Virginia, was inducted into the inaugural class of the GFS Hall of Excellence in the fallof 2007. Some months earlier she had written the testimonial below. She died in her sleep the following April. Her bequest is now part of the School's endowment.
I am extremely grateful to Garrison for the foundation it gave me for my life. The values the teachers espoused made me want to strive to make a difference. I particularly remember how Miss Offutt and Miss Marshall, through their love of history and literature, taught us about the lives of great women—like Florence Nightingale--who became powerful role models for me.
I want to do whatever will help Garrison, which is why I was happy to remember the School in my will.
It was 1930 and Garrison Forest School was in need of a Latin teacher. Headmistresses Jean Marshall and Nancy Offutt informed their new English teacher, fresh out of college, that she would now be teaching Latin. Miriam Vanderveer rose to the challenge. Those first few months, she stayed a chapter ahead of her students in the text book. Soon, she - and her students - had mastered the subject.
For the next 42 years, Mrs. Van, as she was known to generations of Garrison Forest students, continued to teach Latin. Her lessons went well beyond verb conjugation. Determined and direct, she taught integrity and respect. Eloquent and articulate, she encouraged each student to embrace her own intellect and go beyond expectations. From 1959 until 1977, she brought these same qualities to the Garrison Forest Board of Trustees. That year she was named Trustee Emerita, a title she held until her death in October 2001.
Mrs. Van helped to set the standard for teaching and learning at Garrison Forest. Though her profession has changed a bit since 1930 'teachers now join the School as experts in their disciplines' the caliber and character of each teacher today are as constant as they were decades ago. Mrs. Van's high expectations for herself, her students, and the School that she considered her family inspired her lifelong generosity to Garrison Forest. Dedicated to ensuring that teachers be fairly compensated, Mrs. Van gave generously to the Annual Fund and Faculty Endowment throughout her lifetime.
Upon her death, Mrs. Van bequeathed the largest gift in the School's history: $4.2 million. Arguably the biggest gift ever given to an independent school by a faculty member, the Board of Trustees has chosen to honor her remarkable generosity to Garrison Forest by designating this bequest for Faculty Endowment. Mrs. Van's greatest gifts were her abiding influence, keen intellect, and deep compassion as a teacher and person. Her unparalleled bequest ensures that these qualities remain steadfast in the classrooms and character of Garrison Forest faculty today and for generations to come.