Cather Legacy Society

A Planned Gift With Lasting Impact
Mary Vaughan
Mary Vaughan: Why She Joined the Cather Legacy Society


A comprehensive estate plan takes into account the people, places, and causes you care about.

Joining the Cather Legacy Society is an excellent way for you to leave a legacy and help further our mission. A planned gift to the Willa Cather Foundation can provide you or your estate with significant tax benefits—all while making certain that our programs and services will benefit generations to come. Your personal legacy will inspire others and provide financial security to enable us to engage in long-range planning.

Your planned gift will benefit visitors from around the globe, and help in our pursuit to popularize Cather and her work around the world. 

There are a variety of ways you can fulfill your philanthropic desires including a bequest, or a beneficiary designation for a trust, retirement plan, or life insurance policy. No matter how you choose to give, our staff can help guide you through the process as you fulfill your philanthropic needs.

If you have questions, please contact your financial advisors or Ashley Olson, Executive Director at 402-746-2653 or

brochure explaining the benefits of the Cather Legacy Society
Cather Legacy Society Brochure


Bequesting a portion of your assets to the Foundation

Why a Bequest? This simple method of remembering the Willa Cather Foundation assures that some portion of your estate passes to the WCF after your death. Including the WCF in your Will may help your heirs avoid certain estate taxes. You can change your mind about your bequest at any time before your death. Your attorney can help you, and if you already have a Will, you can add a codicil at very little cost.

To leave the Foundation a percentage of your estate in your Will:
"I give (insert percentage of residual estate) to the Willa Cather Foundation, a Nebraska 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, 413 North Webster Street, Red Cloud, Nebraska 68970, to provide funding for (program area to benefit; endowment; OR the programs in current need as determined by the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Foundation.")

To leave the Foundation a specific amount of money:
"I give (insert sum) to the Willa Cather Foundation, a Nebraska 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, 413 North Webster Street, Red Cloud, Nebraska, 68970 to provide funding for (program area to benefit; endowment; OR the programs in current need as determined by the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Foundation.")

Make the Foundation a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy

Retirement Plan: Name the WCF as a beneficiary on a retirement plan.

Why retirement plans? Retirement plans can be heavily taxed (unless left to a spouse), and naming the WCF as a charitable beneficiary could reduce taxes. You can change your mind about beneficiaries at any time.

Insurance Policy: Make the WCF a beneficiary of a life insurance policy.

Why life insurance policies? You may have paid-up policies you no longer need, or you may want to set up a new policy with charitable intent. By giving either fully paid or partially paid insurance policies to the WCF, you can receive the deductions immediately or over the length of time you pay for the policy. Name the WCF as both the beneficiary and policy owner, and do this through your local agent.

Giving through charitable trusts

Charitable Remainder Trust: Set up a trust and receive annual income, plus a tax deduction and gift to the WCF.

Why a charitable Remainder trust? You receive annual income and could avoid capital gains and/or estate tax. Please see your financial manager for more information.

Charitable Lead Trust: Set up a trust where annual income comes to the WCF until your death, when the trust transfers back to the family.

Why a charitable lead trust? You may not need income yourself at this time, but you would like your assets to remain within your family. Income generated from the trust comes to the WCF, but at your death, the trust is dissolved and transfers to your family. You do not pay estate tax on the appreciation of the trust, and you receive tax benefits.

Additional options

Other vehicles in which to make a charitable donation include:

  • Gifts of closely held stock
  • Securities or commodities

Farmers and ranchers can save significant taxes by contributing commodities such as corn or cattle to the WCF instead of making a cash contribution after selling the commodity. A producer should consult with his or her tax advisor to determine whether a contribution of commodities is appropriate to their tax situation.

Meet Our Cather Legacy Society Members

Abbie Loomis sits in her rocking chair with My Antonia in hand. Quote: The foundation has my gratitude and admiration for the work done to help share the immigrant story.”

Abbie Loomis

Inspired by the Immigrant Experience

Abbie Loomis first discovered My Ántonia as a teenager and has been reading her mother's copy every year or so since. After one particularly inspirational trip to Webster County, Nebraska and the Pavelka Farmstead, Loomis decided to join the Legacy Society to help protect the site that inspired her favorite Cather novel. Her gift will help share Anna Pavelka's immigrant story with generations of Cather enthusiasts to come. Read More

Jaydene Miner Drew and her family stand on the porch of the J.L. Miner House

Jaydene Miner Drew

Preserving the Miner Legacy

It was a chance roadtrip with her father after college that first interested Jaydene Miner Drew in her Nebraska family history. Her father, James Hugh Miner, was driving from New York to Las Vegas for work and had stopped in Red Cloud to see the town where he’d spent summers as a child. Jaydene joined her father in Las Vegas to make the return trip, and he insisted they visit again so that she could see the town associated with her ancestry. Read More

Jay and Wade sit at a counter. A quote on the image explains their decision to become legacy society members

Jay Yost and Wade Leak

A Lifetime of Giving

Philanthropy goes back a long way in the lives of Wade Leak and Jay Yost, who both started giving to their churches at a young age. “I started tithing the minute I earned 25 cents,” says Wade. “Honestly, it taught me the importance of supporting in a financial way the things you care about.” Read More

Joseph Kyle stands at the entrance to the Cather Memorial Prairie with the landscape in the background

Dr. Joseph "Joe" Kyle

Last Visit Leads to Unexpected Bequest

There are few things more touching to leaders of nonprofit organizations than to receive an occasional email, phone call, or letter that reveals a bequest has been left through arrangements in someone’s estate plan. This summer, we received notice of an unexpected and generous bequest from Dr. Joseph D. ‘Joe’ Kyle. The news came from Dr. Kyle’s son, Alex Kyle, who shared that he had escorted his father to Nebraska in 2019 for “one last visit to the Plains.” Read More

Jane Renner Hood stands with a garden behind her, wearing a pink shirt

Jane Renner Hood

An Organization Aligned with Her Mission

Like her parents and grandparents before her, Jane Renner Hood holds firmly to a personal mission of making the earth a better place for all, and believes that this commitment is what gives life value. Her dream for the Willa Cather Foundation is that we continue to bring Cather’s words to as many people as possible around the world. A person of action, Hood has invested in this dream by including the Willa Cather Foundation in her estate plans. Read More

Dr. Virgil and Dolores Albertini stand together, surrounded by flowers

Dr. Virgil and Dolores Albertini

Charter Members of the Cather Legacy Society

Dr. Virgil Albertini and his wife Dolores first visited Red Cloud in the 1970s on a road trip from Maryville, Missouri, over Thanksgiving break. During the visit, they learned about the Willa Cather Foundation’s annual Spring Conference. The couple later returned to attend their first Spring Conference in 1978 and have missed only one of the annual gatherings since that time. Read More

Dr. Mary Ruth Ryder, professional headshot with black jacket and white shirt.

Dr. Mary Ruth Ryder

Giving Back for All Cather Gave Her

Reflecting back on her first Spring Conference many years ago, it was the kindness shown to her as a young scholar that compelled Dr. Mary Ruth Ryder to become a member of the Willa Cather Foundation – and ultimately to join the Cather Legacy Society by naming the Foundation in her estate plans.  “The scholars were kind to each other, non-competitive, supportive of young scholars, and receptive. This is what scholars should do with knowledge. Read More