Blanton J. and Margaret S. Whitmire with Chancellor John W. Bardo.
Blanton J. and Margaret S. “Peggy” Whitmire sign an agreement establishing the Whitmire Charitable Gift Annuity, which eventually will support Western Carolina University’s programs in environmental sciences and early childhood education, while Chancellor John Bardo looks on.

CULLOWHEE - Members of one of Western North Carolina’s best-known families have taken steps to guarantee that a long-standing family tradition of financial support for higher education will continue even after their deaths, through a gift annuity of more than $1,082,000 to Western Carolina University.

Blanton J. and Margaret S. “Peggy” Whitmire, who now live near St. Louis, recently signed an agreement establishing the Whitmire Charitable Gift Annuity, which eventually will support Western’s programs in environmental sciences and early childhood education.

“Through this fund, Peg and I can help ensure that future generations of students will have the opportunity for a excellent education at Western. We’re especially happy we can continue to make a difference in two areas near and dear to our hearts - the environment and early childhood education,” Blanton Whitmire said.

“We believe in what’s going on at Western Carolina University, and we feel good about our continuing investment in cleaner water, cleaner air and cleaner land, and for a high-quality education for the teachers of tomorrow,” said Margaret Whitmire.

A charitable gift annuity is a way for donors to make a contribution to the university while providing the certainty of a defined income stream for life. In exchange for a gift of cash or marketable securities, Western guarantees in a formal written agreement that it will pay the donor a fixed amount on a regular basis.

“Under the agreement, the Whitmires will receive annuity payments from the Western Carolina University Foundation until they pass away, at which time the remainder will become available to the university,” said Jim Manring, Western’s director of planned giving. “The final amount available for support of the university’s programs will be determined by the combination of the number of years they live and the rate of return earned during that time.”

One half of the remainder from the annuity will used to provide scholarships, professorships, programmatic needs, equipment or buildings for Western’s environmental sciences program, and the other half will be used similarly to support the memory of Myrtle Olivia Whitmire and the early childhood education programs at Western.

A gift of $667,000 from the Whitmires in 1997, along with $333,000 in matching funds, created the Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Science, a position currently held by internationally known water quality expert Jerry R. Miller. An additional gift of $120,000 has funded research by Western chemistry professors attempting to determine if roots of certain plants can be used to remove pesticide contamination from the soil of a Western North Carolina housing development once home to a major apple orchard.

Blanton, brother E.J. Whitmire and their spouses were instrumental in creating the Myrtle Olivia Whitmire Scholarship Fund in 1974, which provides scholarship assistance to North Carolina students planning careers in early childhood education, and the “Little E.J.” Scholarship Fund in 1996, which provides assistance to special education students. The Whitmire name also adorns Western’s football stadium, dedicated in October 1974 as E.J. Whitmire Stadium in honor of the former trustee who did most of the site preparation work for the facility.

Blanton Whitmire was raised on a French Broad River-front farm in Brevard, one of 11 children. He is past president of Whitmire Research Laboratories in St Louis, which conceived in the early 1960s an innovative concept for application of indoor pesticide that is today considered the most environmentally safe and effective method of applying insecticides indoors. He and his wife, the former Margaret “Peggy” Sandhagen, have two children and live near St. Louis, where they are active in their church and many other local organizations.

The Whitmires said they chose an annuity for their latest gift to Western in part because of its simplicity.

An Internal Revenue Service-approved estate planning method, a gift annuity provides a rate of return that is significantly higher than traditional certificates of deposit or similar investments, yet they are very safe and provide considerable tax advantages, Western’s Manring said. “If a charity is going to be included in a will, for example, the donor could establish a gift annuity while still living and benefit financially through a higher income and less taxes.”

For more information on gift annuities or other planned giving options, contact Jim Manring toll-free at (800) 492-8496, or locally at (828) 227-7124.

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Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2003
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