Donors’ gifts live on long after they are gone
By John Tucker
The two families come from different backgrounds. One rural, the other urban. But a common thread binds them together.
Both families gave generously to Sun Health Foundation which enabled countless individuals to receive needed medical care through Sun Health and Banner Health.
The heads of those families are now deceased, but their legacies live on, not just through philanthropy but in the lives of their children who witnessed their parents’ charity and learned valuable lessons from it.
The Kuhn Family
Fond memories pour out of Carol Mount and Janet Congel when they talk about their parents, Dick and Jo Kuhn who met as kids at a church in Columbus, Ohio. Dick was a farm boy from the nearby agricultural community of Hilliard. Jo was a city girl, five years Dick’s junior.
The pair hit it off and married in 1944, a union that lasted 68 years. They bought a farm adjacent to Dick’s parents’ farm where they raised crops and livestock.
“Mom and dad worked hard, made a loving home for us, devoted themselves to their church and volunteered for civic and farming organizations too numerous to list,” Carol says.
Janet echoes that sentiment.
“Our parents were always thinking of and doing for others and that set an incredible example for us.”
Both daughters remember their farmhouse as a social hub. “Mom and dad loved to have guests and they welcomed everyone into our home like they were family,” Carol says. Get-togethers often centered on meals, socializing and playing board games or cards, especially euchre.
“It was a wonderful, wholesome, family-oriented way to grow up,” Janet says.
Dick and Jo retired to Sun City in 1989. They immersed themselves in community activities and in their church. In their spare time, they traveled, which included many visits to see children and grandchildren.
The Kuhns became acquainted with Sun Health by attending health-education seminars hosted by Sun Health Foundation. Shortly after, they began donating to the organization.
In a 2004 interview – shortly after the Kuhns had created a charitable gift annuity through the Foundation – Jo explained the reason for their generosity. “We chose to do this because we’re grateful for all we’ve been given.”
In 2008, Dick was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Not long after, the Kuhns established a gift from their estate to the Foundation to support Alzheimer’s research at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. Dick and Jo had received care and support at the Institute. Dick passed away in 2012 and Jo in 2017.
“Mom and dad were all about family and they felt like they were part of the Sun Health family,” Carol says.
The Beckman Family
Phil Beckman describes his father Charlie Beckman as the “smartest person” he ever met. “Even in his 90s, he could do a lecture on economic theory at the drop of a hat,” Phil says.
Charlie had two masters’ degrees from Columbia University – one in economics and one in Russian – and was prepared to take a teaching job at a college in Atlanta before a WWII buddy convinced him that the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the modern CIA, needed him more. Previously, he had served the OSS as an Army serviceman during the war.
Charlie wound up working for the CIA for his entire career. His assignments took him to China, Hong Kong, Egypt and around the U.S. He learned to speak several languages and became a student of the culture and history of the countries wherever he worked or visited.
Charlie, his wife Elizabeth, and sons Jim and Phil lived many years in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Charlie and Elizabeth retired and moved to Sun City in 1971. Charlie became very involved in the local Disciples of Christ Church and served as a chief clerk for the Arizona Tax Court for a few years.
The Beckmans began donating to Sun Health Foundation in the ‘70s with most gifts earmarked for Boswell Memorial Hospital. Elizabeth’s health began to fail and Charlie became a devoted caregiver. She died in 2001. The care Sun Health had provided for Elizabeth motivated him to give more.
In a conversation with Pamela Kohnen, senior development director for the Foundation, Charlie shared that he could see the good work being done by Sun Health and that he wanted all future gifts to go to the Foundation’s greatest needs. He established a charitable gift annuity in 2004.
“My dad thought very highly of Sun Health Foundation. He knew it was a first-class organization,” says Phil, who knows a thing or two about estate planning. He’s a retired computer engineer and a paralegal, and he and an attorney friend ran a law firm for a few years that specialized in estate planning. “Everyone should have a plan to ensure that their wishes are followed,” Phil says.
Charlie passed away Dec. 24, 2017. “He lived a full life making a difference in the lives of others,” Phil says.
Pamela knew the Kuhns and Charlie well and has continued to stay in touch with their children.
“My life is so enriched by having the opportunities and blessings of knowing them,” Pamela says. “We strive to honor our donors while they are with us, but also after they are gone.”