Fund Founder Puts IRA to Work in Building a Legacy

A man and woman stand in front of a building smiling for a photo.

Bruce Wilson was getting his affairs in order after his wife of 59 years passed away. His financial advisor encouraged him to think about a charitable gift that would help him achieve several goals: honor his wife, build a legacy of charitable giving, and receive tax and other financial benefits.

Bruce said he didn’t have to think about it; partnering with the Community Foundation not only made sense financially, it felt good too.

Bruce and Geraldine Wilson met when they were both music education undergrads at the University of Michigan. Bruce said “Gerri” had been a singer from a young age and was a seasoned performer by the time she graduated from high school.

A woman stands taking photos in the wilderness“She became a master teacher,” Bruce said. “She considered teaching to be a performance art. Her students loved her because she thoroughly engaged with them.”

Bruce also enjoyed a career in education, starting as a music teacher, moving into higher education, transitioning into music archival work, and ultimately serving as Head of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The couple raised a son who lives in Middletown with his wife and their 4-year-old daughter. After Bruce and Gerri retired, they both pursued other art forms. Gerri became a nature photographer and Bruce explored the paper arts. From their vacation home in West Virginia they worked together with others to found community organizations to support art education in the local schools and to promote the work of area artists.

After Gerri passed away in 2021, Bruce said, “she did not choose to live with Alzheimer’s Disease in her final years, but she bore it with grace – friendly, appreciative, sweet and loving to the end.”

While discussing his estate, Bruce’s financial advisor suggested making a charitable gift to offset tax burdens and to honor the couple’s passion for the arts. Bruce created The Bruce and Geraldine Wilson Charitable Fund with the Community Foundation that supports their life-long love of the arts through community organizations and benefits the Alzheimer’s Association. Bruce was able to create this fund with a required minimum distribution from an IRA.

An artist leans over a piece of wood as he carves.“People should know that if they made investments and they are over the age of 70, they can reduce their tax liability with a gift to charity,” Bruce said. “You can accomplish something philanthropic that does what you want, and help your own financial situation at the same time. You can benefit other people and yourself.”

Bruce also made a planned gift that is built into his estate and will come to fruition after his lifetime. He said that partnering with the Community Foundation allows him to support multiple charities annually during his lifetime and that it was important to know that his estate gift will continue to benefit causes he and his wife cared about for generations to come.

“It’s not a glorious sum, but it’s a portion that I feel will do some good,” Bruce said. “It satisfies me to know that when both of us are gone the resources that we earned while we were working in the arts will continue to support the arts. The arts need private philanthropy to survive and thrive.”