William and Harriet Currie: Providing for UMaine’s Future

William and Harriet Currie: Providing for UMaine’s Future

William D. Currie, fondly known as Bill, was always full of hope for the future. Bill also planned for the future of a place that was near and dear to his heart: Buchanan Alumni House. In 2013 in his role as Co-President of the Class of 1952 Bill facilitated the creation of the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund, a permanently endowed fund at the University of Maine Foundation that provides financial assistance for the operation and maintenance of the Robert D. Buchanan Alumni House facility.

Bill and his wife, Harriett, spent a lot of time at the place he considered the home of Black Bear alumni. They enjoyed attending Reunions, Class of 1952 meetings, and visiting their friends at the University of Maine Foundation and Alumni Association, both of which are fortunate to have Buchanan Alumni House as their home.

During Bill’s lifetime, he and Harriett consistently donated to the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund. In Black Bear spirit, he asked many of his classmates to do the same. Bill wanted his legacy of exemplary leadership and extensive service to the University of Maine as a proud alumnus to live in perpetuity, so he decided to name the University of Maine Foundation as a beneficiary of an employer-sponsored life insurance policy to benefit the Class of 1952 Buchanan Alumni House Fund.

Bill’s remarkable leadership and service as a Black Bear alumnus were recognized with several alumni achievement awards, including the Block “M” Award (1997), Black Bear Award (2002), Golden “M” Award (2002), and the Pine Tree Emblem Alumni Service Award (2011). Bill was grateful for his UMaine undergraduate experience, which he believed gave him a strong foundation for his success in life – both professionally and personally. Bill was also fortunate to meet his classmate Harriett, and the Bear Pair built a wonderful life together. Sadly, Bill and Harriett both passed away in 2020. They will be missed dearly by all who were fortunate to be part of their Black Bear family.

Helping Students to Afford to Attend UMaine

Helping Students to Afford to Attend UMaine

Why would a couple from Berkley, California who did not attend the University of Maine create a $3.4 million scholarship for Maine’s neediest students?

Durant Sheffield and his eight sisters all attended school in Thomaston, Maine. Their mother, Wilma T. Sheffield, was a homemaker and their father, Henry F. Sheffield, worked at the cement plant. When Durant graduated from Thomaston High School at the age of 17, attending the University of Maine was not an option for him. He joined the U.S. Army and when his enlistment ended, he attended the University of Connecticut with the help of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the G.I. Bill.

With an electrical engineering degree, he spent his entire professional career with General Electric as a Project Engineer working all over the world on energy generating projects. He met his wife, Fumiko, in New Mexico and they settled in California.

He always regretted that he had not been able to attend UMaine right out of high school.

As Durant and Fumiko began their retirement, they and their advisor turned to the University of Maine Foundation for help with their one and only charitable goal – helping Maine students who could not afford to attend UMaine. Because he was so grateful for the difference that the G.I. Bill made in his life, Durant wanted to replicate that impact by creating an endowment that would someday provide full scholarships for Maine’s neediest students.

Durant and Fumiko created a charitable remainder annuity trust in 2004 that provided a steady income to them for their lifetimes, with the remainder to be endowed to provide as many full scholarships to UMaine as possible in perpetuity. At the same time, they included the University of Maine Foundation in their wills to further augment their endowed scholarship fund.

Durant believed that the best engineers never hesitate to say, “I don’t know.” He appreciated the University of Maine Foundation’s role in working with their attorney to assure a generous life income and the ultimate establishment of the scholarship he had been hoping to create throughout his career. Sadly, Durant and Fumiko passed away in 2018. Because of their generosity, fewer students will have to face an inability to attend UMaine because of finances. Durant and Fumiko’s legacy of helping Maine students will forever be an incredible testament to their success and to their love for the state of Maine.

The College of Her Heart Always

The College of Her Heart Always

On August 6, 2020 Agnes Ann Walsh ’41 will celebrate her 100th birthday. 

The University of Maine has been in existence for 154 years, and Agnes A. Walsh ’41 has been a proud Black Bear for more than half that time. Since her graduation in 1941, at least one thing has remained steadfast: her fierce devotion to and love for her alma mater. 

Born and raised in South Portland, Maine, and an honor graduate of South Portland High School, Agnes Ann ventured north to Orono in 1937 to begin her college career at UMaine. Agnes Ann immersed herself in many activities, including the Delta Delta Delta sorority, the Debating Team, Language Club, student publications, and sports, as well as in campus leadership groups like the Sophomore Eagles. Formed in 1926, the Sophomore Eagles is a student organization that promotes the customs and traditions of the university. The spirit of the Eagles mission has never left Agnes Ann, as she serves as a committed and enthusiastic ambassador of the university to this day. 

Upon graduation, Agnes Ann put her degree in Romance languages and her teaching certificate to good use, embarking on a long and impactful career as a Latin teacher. She taught first at Washington Academy in East Machias, Maine, then at Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine, and finally at Winchester High School in Winchester, Massachusetts, where she was on the faculty for more than 25 years. 

Agnes Ann has been involved in the Alumni Ambassador program, the Alumni Chapter of Southern Maine, the Friends of Page Farm and Home Museum, the Portland Area Alumnae Chapter, and the Class of 1941. For her tireless work and long tenure as the correspondent for the Class of 1941, Agnes Ann was awarded the 2015 Hilda A. Sterling ’55 Class Correspondent Award. She also was the 1990 recipient of the Black Bear Award, which honors outstanding advocacy for and service to the university, and the 1985 recipient of the Block M Award, which honors alumni who advance the strength and success of their alumni class. In 2007, Agnes Ann was elected as an Honorary Member of the University of Maine Foundation in recognition of her special service to the Foundation and the University.

A UMaine sports fan, Agnes Ann attends UMaine events as often as she can, and constantly embraces and encourages others to support UMaine. Her generous Triple Crown contributions have benefited numerous areas across campus, including the Buchanan Alumni House and the John Randall & Agnes Annie Walsh Scholarship, created in memory of her parents. The vision for her legacy includes major support of Romance languages at UMaine, the area of study nearest and dearest to her.

Agnes Ann lives in Scarborough, Maine. For her tireless advocacy on behalf of the college of our hearts always, Agnes Ann Walsh is a 2019 recipient of the Stillwater Award for her outstanding contributions to the University of Maine. 

Happy birthday, Agnes Ann. We are honored to have you as a Maine Black Bear! We love that your face still lights up when you think about the college of our hearts always.

Cort family creates legacy for University of Maine students

Cort family creates legacy for University of Maine students

R-L: Rob Cort, Valerie Peer-Cort, Carol Cort, Brad Cort

The Cort family’s contribution to the University of Maine starts with a deep connection to the university itself. While a member of the Class of 1980, Rob became a well-known member of the community, serving as the President of Aroostook Hall and as a resident assistant. When he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in business, Rob joined Maine Energy, the family fuel and propane business. Rob has held many positions at the company, and is now the president of Maine Energy, Inc. He is the third generation owner of this family-run business.

In 1991, Valerie Peer-Cort graduated from the University of Maine. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in communication disorders in 1995, also from UMaine. Since then, Valerie has been serving the youth of the state of Maine as a Speech Language Pathologist in public schools, mostly located in the Downeast region of the state. Valerie credits the University of Maine with excellent preparation for a wide range of challenges faced as a Speech Language Pathologist.

Because of their love of their alma mater, Valerie and Rob started the Valerie E. Peer-Cort and Robert E. Cort Scholarship in 2018 to give aid to students in business administration and communication sciences & disorders. They are happy to be able to support current students on an ongoing basis and to ensure that more Black Bears will be able to pursue their diverse courses of study.

Brad and Carol, both 1983 UMaine chemical engineering graduates began their careers with Champion International at the Technology Center in Hamilton, Ohio and then joined CE Bauer in Springfield Ohio. Through a number of mergers and acquisitions, the company eventually became Andritz, Inc.

Carol left the pulp and paper industry after 10 years, earned her master’s degree in education, and is now teaching math and science at the high school level. Brad has held various roles at Andritz including process engineering manager, technical director and is presently director of NA sales for the paper, fiber and recycling division. Both Carol and Brad have had the opportunity to publish and present many technical papers, and Brad has been granted several U.S. patents.

When establishing the Cort/Ludwig Scholarship, Brad and Carol honored their fathers, Robert Cort and Stephen Ludwig, for their influence and encouragement. “Both of us really appreciated our UMPPF scholarships while at UMaine and wanted to provide that same opportunity to other students,” said Brad and Carol.

The dedication this family has to the University of Maine is shown with the creation of these two scholarships, which will benefit UMaine students for many years. While there are many ways to give to the University of Maine, scholarship endowments like these ensure continued support in perpetuity, and that kind of giving is invaluable to the UMaine community.

Class of 1959 reunion gifts matched by classmate

Class of 1959 reunion gifts matched by classmate

Don Cookson ’59, Blaine Moores ’59

Blaine Moores of the University of Maine class of 1959 wanted to do something special to honor the class’s landmark 60th class reunion. He decided that the best way to do this would be to not only give back to the University, but also to make an education there a reality for more Maine students. Blaine set a challenge for his classmates to increase the Class of 1959 Scholarship as much as possible by the time their 60th reunion came around. At the time, in June 2016, the principal of the scholarship was $31,777.30.

Blaine generously offered to match all gifts to the Class of 1959 Scholarship dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $50,000. Not to be outshined, Class of 1959 alumni rose to the challenge: many classmates have donated to the fund since July 1, 2016. Class of 1959 President Don Cookson has been instrumental in the fundraising effort, giving generously himself as well as supporting and encouraging his fellow class members. Thanks to the gifts from classmates and the matching gift from Blaine, the scholarship principal now exceeds $130,000.

The Class of 1959 Scholarship gives first preference to descendants of the Class of 1959 until 2030. After 2030, or if no descendants of the Class of 1959 apply, a second preference shall be given to nontraditional students who demonstrate financial need.

The Foundation offers sincere gratitude to Blaine, Don, and everyone from the class of 1959 for meeting the challenge and for their commitment to making a University of Maine education achievable for generations to come.

A lifetime of investing leads to a significant legacy

A lifetime of investing leads to a significant legacy

Marguerite Picard lived a very simple life and was a very astute investor. When she passed in 2016 at the age of 100, her estate plans included significant gifts to several organizations which were meaningful to her. As a University of Maine graduate from the class of 1938 and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, UMaine held a special place in her heart. Along with support for her sorority, Miss Picard established, through her estate, a $1.8 million endowed scholarship, The Marguerite M. Picard Scholarship Fund, to benefit deserving students at her alma mater. Her education in romance languages had been important to her along with a lifelong interest in language and liberal arts and sciences.

Miss Picard was employed by the State of Maine for 34 years. When she retired she was a research analyst at the Maine Department of Manpower Affairs.

Miss Picard’s scholarship fund has become her perpetual legacy. Each year she will be fondly remembered by UMaine students who receive much-needed financial support to study, like Miss Picard, at the University of Maine. Those students will earn their degrees, many may be motivated to support future UMaine students, and the circle of education and philanthropy will continue to grow. We can only imagine how many future generations will be changed by Miss Picard’s generosity.