Impact Stories

Blue and White in Their Golden Years

Penn State campus

Impact Stories

Blue and White in Their Golden Years

Bob and Marilyn Forney

Bob and Marilyn Forney used a combination of giving strategies to make an impact on Penn State.

The romance between Bob, 90, and Marilyn Forney, 79, first took root at a game of bridge in their Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, retirement community. Married in 2010, the couple has many interests in common, including a commitment to supporting Bob's alma mater.

After serving for three years in the U.S. Navy, Bob attended Penn State with the help of the G.I. Bill and the support of his late first wife, Ellie. When he witnessed his fellow student and lab partner drop out of the University because he could not marshal the funds for tuition, Bob made a commitment to one day help students in need.

Now retired from his career as an engineering salesperson for General Electric, Bob—together with Marilyn, a retired math teacher—is realizing this dream through a combination of planned and outright giving strategies, which have enabled the couple to support students in the College of Engineering, Bob's academic home, and the Penn State Blue Band, which was close to Ellie's heart.

"I'm grateful for the career and life Penn State enabled me to build, and through philanthropy, Marilyn and I hope to extend the same opportunities to others," Bob says.

In 2017, the couple created the Robert & Marilyn Forney Engineering Scholarship with a gift of appreciated stock. In addition to supporting students in the College of Engineering, the gift reduced the couple's capital gains tax burden. And because this was their first endowed scholarship at the University, Penn State matched the gift 1:1 through the First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program.

Bob and Marilyn have also made an estate commitment to significantly enhance the scholarship after their lifetimes, enabling them to give more than would otherwise be possible.

Beyond the College of Engineering, the Forneys have supported the Penn State Blue Band with a gift of appreciated stock to the Blue Band Legacy Fund, an endowment that supports the repair and replacement of Blue Band equipment. The gift is in memory of Ellie, who loved the Blue Band.

Today, Bob and Marilyn enjoy listening to the Blue Band and cheering on the Nittany Lions at Penn State football games, which they attend religiously as season ticket holders. When Penn State football is not in season, they enjoy traveling, golfing, gardening, and serving as Pennsylvania Forest Stewards through Penn State's Center for Private Forests.

"We're fortunate to enjoy good health, a comfortable retirement, and each other's companionship," Bob says. "Philanthropy is our way of helping those who are less fortunate and saying 'thank you' to Penn State. It's been a significant part of our lives."

Troy Belzecky"This scholarship isn't simply an award of money—it's so much more than that. To have received this scholarship means that somebody, without even knowing me, has a belief in me and my abilities. This award gives me hope that one day I can live to be as great of an engineer as Mr. Forney and create a scholarship of my own for engineering students."
—Troy Belzecky, Penn State electrical engineering student and the first recipient of the Robert & Marilyn Forney Engineering Scholarship


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Penn State University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Penn State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at c/o Office of Gift Planning, 212 The 103 Building, University Park, PA 16802, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Penn State or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Penn State as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Penn State as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Penn State where you agree to make a gift to Penn State and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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