A Selfless Act of Altruism

Lars and Susan

Jane Veazie Nelson's children, Lars and Susan, take comfort knowing their mother's memory will live on in the form of a scholarship.

When Lars Nelson and Susan Carver learned after their mother's passing at age 97 last year that a very generous bequest she had included in her will for the University of Southern Maine might go unfulfilled, they knew exactly what needed to be done. In her will, Jane Veazie Nelson, a longtime teacher, tutor and literacy volunteer who called Gorham home for much of her adult life, had directed 25 percent of her residuary estate to go to USM for student financial aid. Unfortunately, when she passed away, the assets she had designated to fund the planned gift were no longer part of her estate.

"Honoring our mother's desire to give a sizable amount of money to USM for student scholarships was very important to us. So when we found out that the bequest was linked to assets she no longer held, we asked her attorney to come up with a way to make the gift possible," recalled Lars. The plan that eventually emerged required Lars and his sister to each forgo $75,000 from larger sums their mother had earmarked for them, but neither has any reservations or regrets. "Simply put, it was the right thing for us to do," Lars noted. "Our mother had a strong desire to see opportunities happen for others, so we take great comfort, satisfaction and pride in knowing that her caring spirit will live on in the form of scholarship awards to deserving college students."

While neither a USM alumna (she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Simmons College and the University of Maine, respectively) nor a former USM faculty or staff member, Jane Nelson was nevertheless well aware of the institution and its reputation for offering an affordable, high-quality education. "Mom believed that education established a firm foundation for success in life and that learning should be a lifelong endeavor," remarked Susan. "USM's Senior College was always one of her favorite activities," she notes, "and she continued to attend classes well into her 90s!"

With the resources provided by Lars and Susan through their mother's estate, USM will establish The Jane Nelson Last Mile Scholarship, a permanent endowed fund that will make need-based assistance available to undergraduate students who have exhausted their eligibility for federal financial aid and are within one or two semesters of graduation. "This is a wonderful gift that will truly impact lives," commented Nancy Griffin, USM's vice president for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs. "It's heartbreaking when a student is forced to withdraw from school with the finish line in clear sight because he or she can no longer afford to stay enrolled. But with this special scholarship fund in place, that situation will thankfully occur much less often."

For their part, Lars and Susan are thrilled that their mother's thoughtful gift will be used to "lift a burden and enable students to complete college." Added Lars, "We would like to think that her generous act will inspire others to make similar gifts to the University of Southern Maine in the future."

You, too, can help make a USM education possible for students. To learn more about ways you can make a difference, contact Charlie Henshall at (207) 780-4741 or charles.henshall@maine.edu.

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