Background Image

Gerald '59 & Barbara Claffie

In this Section
Supporting Clarkson in Tough Economic Times
October 2009

There were ten typed questions on a sheet of paper.   After reviewing them one last time, Jerry Claffie ‘59 tucked them into a leather folder as he and his wife, Barbara, were getting ready for their eight hour trek from Cherry Hill, NJ to Potsdam, NY to celebrate Jerry’s 50th anniversary reunion.

As Jerry and Barbara pulled out of their driveway, Jerry could not believe that 50 years had passed since he completed his electrical engineering undergraduate degree at Clarkson.  “Somewhere along the way, my less favorable memories of the cold winter weather and the shortage of female college students faded and were replaced with favorable memories of many close friends, motivated and caring faculty members and the stimulating Clarkson learning environment," Jerry said. 

After graduating from Clarkson in 1959, Jerry worked a few months and then served six months in the Army.  He then continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania and received his MS in Electrical Engineering in 1963.  While attending school, he obtained a job as a Research Engineer with RCA Corporation in 1961.  He continued working for RCA and its successive owners (GE bought RCA then sold it to Martin Marietta which eventually merged with Lockheed) for 36 years in various engineering, marketing and management positions until he retired in 1997.  This was the same year Jerry earned his MBA from Rutgers University.  This late-in-life educational experience motivated him to return to the University atmosphere as an Adjunct Professor of Electronics and Management Science at Burlington County College and then at Rutgers-Camden until 2008.  Jerry is now happily adapting to “full-time retirement” by enjoying additional time with his family and friends, his investment and traveling hobbies and time at the gym.

After graduating from the College of Wooster in 1963, Barbara Regen worked four years as a Mathematician for the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company in Philadelphia.  Jerry met Barbara shortly after she arrived in Philadelphia and they married in 1965.  Barbara stopped working at Penn Mutual to raise a family that eventually included daughters Patricia and Amy.  When their younger daughter was in grade school, Barbara took several accounting courses and then started working part-time for a local builder so that she would still have adequate time to raise their family and to enjoy such activities as tennis and bridge.   Now, 30 years later, she continues to work for the same builder where her financial responsibilities have been expanded to include management of an office park and a strip mall.  She loves this work and will probably continue working for several more years until Jerry proposes too much travel.

Since education has had a very positive impact on both of their lives, the Claffies determined their estate plans should include a special gift to Clarkson.  Several years ago they became members of the Annie Clarkson Society when they decided to leave a bequest from their estate to Clarkson.  As the economy became more and more uncertain throughout the past year, Jerry, the financial advisor of the household, began to take notice of gift annuity publications.  “As I watched the investment markets falter and C.D. rates decrease, I started to realize that the charitable gift annuity rates were pretty attractive. I wanted to learn more about how they worked.”

Though the main purpose of their visit to Potsdam was to reconnect and reminisce with fellow classmates, the Claffies also scheduled a meeting with the Gift Planning Office to learn more about charitable gift annuities and charitable trusts as a possible way to contribute part of their intended bequest to Clarkson during their lifetimes.  Being a life-long student has taught Jerry to always be prepared, so it was no surprise that he had read up on the various gift vehicles and had brought with him a list of ten printed questions.

After an incredible weekend of renewing friendships that had been fondly remembered for 50 years, touring the TAC building and seeing the progress of the Quad Addition and the Student Center, and meeting with the Gift Planning Staff (and having all their questions were answered), Jerry and Barbara decided to move forward with creating a $50,000 charitable gift annuity.  “I am excited to see all the progress the school is making.  We are pleased to help Clarkson and its future students.   And who knows, we may create an additional annuity in a year or two.”