The Family That Gives Together

Nancy, Steve, Rachael and Russ Walker with Greg and Charlotte Sonnenfeld and Claire and Richard Walker.
Nancy, Steve, Rachael and Russ Walker with Greg and Charlotte Sonnenfeld and Claire and Richard Walker.

Richard Walker finds his parents to be particularly difficult to shop for. So, when he wanted to find a special way to celebrate their retirement, he was stumped.

Walker reached out to his siblings, Russ and Charlotte, for help. Together with their spouses, the three Walker children decided to establish a scholarship at LSU in their parents’ honor.

“We reap a number of the benefits of his success,” Richard said of their father, Steve. “One of those benefits was the opportunity to receive a quality education. For us, it made sense to continue that legacy and pass on that gift to others and provide similar opportunities.”

The Steve and Nancy Walker Endowed Scholarship was half-funded when they presented it to their parents last Thanksgiving. Touched by the gift, and eager to help students, Steve and Nancy matched their contributions. The now fully funded scholarship will benefit students studying business or education—a reflection of Steve’s and Nancy’s respective LSU degrees.

“At first, we were shocked and taken aback by it because we really didn’t expect anything,” Steve said, sharing that he and Nancy instilled the value of education in each of their children. “It was the confirmation that what we had done had been important. They recognized it was a commitment we believed in.”

The couple wanted their children to be able to earn college degrees and graduate debt free. “Our kids really appreciated that,” Nancy said. “The gift of education was something we felt very strongly about. [The scholarship] is a way to continue to give to people to help them defray the cost of education.”

Steve shared that their emphasis on education stems from the opportunities an LSU education has provided them. “I think it’s only right that you turn around and help the institution that helped you.”

Nancy added that LSU “was such an important part of our life, and we want to continue that same spirit for future generations of Tigers.”

Richard is looking forward to deepening the family’s relationship with LSU through the scholarship and meeting future recipients, aspirations that Steve and Nancy share. “The connection to that generation and to those people, a small involvement in their life, is something that I look forward to,” Steve explained. “I was able to do that through my own children. Now that they’re adults, we don’t really have that contact, and our grandchildren aren’t there yet. So, this gives us that avenue that I look forward to.”

 

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2015.

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