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In 70 Years, Eugenia Curtis Never Misses Giving to UT

Eugenia Curtis

Photo credit: Steven Bridges
Eugenia Curtis made it a habit to give back to UT.

In 1942, just a few months after the U.S. entered World War II, Eugenia Hamlett Curtis left her family's home on Main Street in rural Ardmore, Tennessee, for the University of Tennessee.

"I lived in Henson Hall," she remembers. "Shortly after we moved in, we were transferred to Mattie Cane dormitory to make way for platoons of engineers and Air Force recruits that were training at UT. I still think about all those boys who went off to war.

"We had events on campus that made college enjoyable, of course, but we were all very aware of doing our part. I worked as an aide on the UT Library staff. I made $100 a month, which helped with my room and board."

In 1944, Curtis earned her bachelor's degree in English, intending to become a librarian. Instead, she returned to Main Street and took a job as a bookkeeper at the Bank of Ardmore.

That year she also made her first donation to UT.

"I'm sure I wasn't too generous," she says. "There were some lean years way back when!"

Eugenia married Robert Wade Curtis, a farmer, whom she had dated in high school. They had four children, and over the next 18 years she worked on and off at the bank. In 1962, when the Curtises bought a grocery store, she helped out there. And each year, she gave to UT.

Her husband passed away in 1967, when Eugenia was only 43. In 1973, when her youngest child was a senior at Ardmore High School, she went back to banking- this time as a teller at the Ardmore branch of the First National Bank of Pulaski. Still she never missed a year of giving to UT.

"I probably just got a letter and I responded," she laughs.

"It's my duty to contribute to UT," she continues. "I never thought twice about giving to the university that shaped so much of my life and made me who I am."

To date, Eugenia Curtis has accrued 70 consecutive years of giving. It's the longest current streak among UT Knoxville alumni, and probably the longest in UT history.

"My blood runs orange," she explains. "I'm a big sports fan. I follow UT in football and basketball, and I have UT memorabilia everywhere in my house. There's even a UT flag in the front yard!"

She also attributes her long streak of giving to a lifetime pattern of steadfastness.

"I've lived on the same street for 91 years," she says.

Eugenia's 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren share her love for UT. Seven of her grandchildren were enrolled in the UT System-one at UT Chattanooga, one at UT Martin, and the other five at UT Knoxville.

"This legacy," she says, "has kept us connected to UT."

Make a Gift to What Matters Most

Like Eugenia, you can make a gift to UT to show your appreciation for our work. Contact the Office of Planned Giving at or (865) 974-4826 to learn more.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The University Of Tennessee 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, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to The University Of Tennessee [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 UT 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 gift 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 receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 UT as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 UT 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 UT where you agree to make a gift to UT 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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