When Sharon Jack’s husband, Bill, passed away in 1992 she began exploring a planned gift that would honour his memory. Sharon always hoped to leave something to UBC, her husband’s alma mater, but was unsure if the resources she had available could make a substantial impact.
When she met with her financial planner, she learned she could leave the value of her property to UBC in her will.
“I realized I could make a considerable donation,” explains Sharon. “Talking to UBC, there was no sense of pressure, just an open inquiry. I decided yes, this is doable.”
Sharon and Bill both valued education and shared a connection to UBC – Sharon worked as a teacher supervisor in the Faculty of Education for nearly 15 years, Bill was a graduate (BA ‘35 and MA ‘37), and two of his three sons from a previous marriage are alumni.
While studying in the Botany Department at UBC, Bill pursued leading- edge research on spring wheat strains that could grow in the harsh climate of the Prairies. He held a promising intramural fellowship at the National Research Council and later earned an MBA at the University of Toronto. Financial and family obligations prevented Bill from pursuing further graduate studies.
After finishing university, Bill instead took over his family’s farm near Mission, BC, where he was able to apply his research skills and find innovative ways to improve and enlarge the retail nursery. Throughout his life, he remained committed to education, serving on the boards of several school districts in his community and retiring as Associate Dean of the Graduate Faculty of Management Studies at the University of Toronto. He eventually sold portions of the property to pay for his three sons to go to university.
“He was a very gifted and accomplished man, but not pursuing his PhD was always a lingering regret,” says Sharon. “I always felt that, had life circumstances been different, he would have been a major researcher.”
Sharon says Bill was a “Renaissance Man”. He held active interests in academic pursuits and civil involvement, while juggling his career. Sharon wanted to leave a gift that would support research that addresses today’s most pressing agriculture needs. Through her will, she established a fund to support research fellowships in the areas of sustainable farming and food production.
“This will allow a gifted researcher with limited financial means to pursue meaningful research and go in the direction that is most needed.” Sharon explains.
The gift is also meaningful to Sharon because she knows firsthand the transformative impact this kind of support can have on a student’s life, having received financial assistance to attend university herself.
“Education has given me a rich, full life,” she says. “I was given help, and I want to help the next generation.”