A True Passion for Lifelong Learning

Donor Nancy Hill Payne

Nancy Hill Payne decided to name the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute as a beneficiary of her will. Photo credit: Tim Byrne

A True Passion for Lifelong Learning

Passion is a powerful force. It's the energy that fuels the human spirit. People with passion are driven to pursue and create, to move beyond a comfort zone and achieve the potential that resides within.

Nancy Hill Payne was all about passion. She was a mother, businesswoman, author, painter, state legislator and community activist. In her ninety-four years on this planet, Nancy was radiant with love and contagious energy. She celebrated humanity and changed our world for the better.

"She was so alive," Susan Morrow, assistant director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, says. "She was so in tune to whatever was going on in the moment. Nancy was a spark of energy that could hardly be contained. She was funny, witty, had a wicked sense of humor and was totally engaged. Nancy believed she could do anything...and she did."

Never one to rest on her laurels, Nancy had a knack for reinventing herself. After the death of her husband, at a time when few women dotted the political landscape, Nancy was elected into the Maine Legislature in 1978.

In 1984, she was elected at the state convention to represent Maine on the Republican National Committee.

Nancy also self-published two books late in life. Her first, Widowing, a Guide to Another Life, was published when she was 79 years old. Later, she published Phoenix / Maine, a novel focused on creating greater bipartisanship in politics and civility in all relationships.

Nancy was active in a plethora of civic groups, including the United Way, Junior League, Cub Scouts and the American Field Service. She served on the boards of the Young Women's Christian Association, Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging and the Portland Red Cross.

But it was the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute that really captured her attention and her heart.

"Nancy was here from the beginning," Susan says. "She was one of the founding members of the board, and OLLI was one of her passions. Nancy recognized that people were living longer, healthier lives, that they didn't retire and sit in rocking chairs."

Back in the day, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute was a senior college, but its founding charter members, including the remarkable Rabbi Harry Sky, had a vision-a simple idea, really-to provide stimulating courses, lectures, workshops and travel opportunities for people with curious minds and a penchant for learning. A place with interesting and interested people.

Needless to say, OLLI was right up Nancy's alley.

Recognizing a Need
Nancy recognized giving people a common focus, a reason to get out of the house, was vital.

"My mother knew that intellectual engagement would actually keep people healthy," Tony Payne, says. "She witnessed the social value of staying connected to peers and engaged in the community, of sharing knowledge and learning together ... she understood the potential importance and lasting impact OLLI could have on our quality of life."

Nancy found herself involved in OLLI in more than one way.

"She not only was a proponent of OLLI, but a direct beneficiary," Tony says. "She took classes on world history and religion, and also taught art history for a period of time. It was that kind of passion among all the OLLI leaders that helped give traction to the initiative. OLLI now has expanded to campuses across the country. It's considered a critical resource for hundreds of thousands of people who would not otherwise have such intellectual engagement."

Investing a Legacy
Nancy's passion for learning and connection, and her devotion to OLLI's potential was the driving force behind her decision to create a planned gift.

"OLLI was particularly meaningful to her," Tony says. "Very early on, she made a real commitment to OLLI of time, talent and treasure. That's why she made arrangements for this gift during her lifetime. She wanted to leave a legacy to OLLI that would be enduring."

Planned giving is a simple way to ensure you will be making a real difference to the organizations that mean the most to you and your loved ones after your lifetime.

"It's a wonderful demonstration of the faith and the commitment that Nancy continues to have in us," Susan says. "She was passionate about lifelong learning. She recognized the value that OLLI brought into her life and into lives of others. We honor Nancy and her gift each day."

The Difference a Gift Makes
"Planned giving speaks to a number of emerging dimensions and trends in society," Tony adds. "We're living longer-80 is the new 60. We're going to spend a lot more time above ground, so we'll want to have our lives enriched with all our synapses firing. My mother's gift will ensure that those extended retirement years will offer future generations lives that are full of vitality."

If you would like to help support educational opportunities at USM, like Nancy, consider making a planned gift through your estate.

A bequest in your will is one way to ensure the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or any of USM's educational opportunities, will continue to enrich lives for years to come without giving up assets today.

Visit us on the Web for information on the many ways to give to USM. There are many gift options that not only benefit USM, but can benefit you as well.

Contact Erin Macey at (207) 780-4408 or erin.macey@maine.edu  to learn more.


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