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."
"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