Eldon Spencer ’69

1 August 2023
Headshot of Eldon Spencer

Eldon Spencer ’69 wants to be remembered as he lived: contributing to the charities he feels are doing good work in the world.

Partly because of his loyalty to Carleton — as an alumnus and a parent — but mostly because he strongly agrees with its mission, he and his wife, Ann Spencer, established a series of flexible deferred charitable gift annuities. “We felt it would be an appropriate message for our kids — that in death, just like in life, we give a certain portion of our income or estate to charity,” Spencer says.

Spencer has given to the college through the Alumni Annual Fund for more than 40 years, and now his annuities allow him to make a more significant contribution than he’d otherwise be able to while also cushioning his financial security as he plans for retirement. He contrasts the annuity with life insurance, which offers financial assistance in cases of an early death. An annuity, on the other hand, offers financial assistance in cases of a very long life because it provides a steady, guaranteed income for the rest of his and his wife’s lives.

“The income wasn’t the thrust for the gift, but it does provide a little cushion,” Spencer says.

After a long career as an attorney and multiple graduate degrees, Spencer still feels it was his undergraduate education at Carleton that prepared him for success. That’s what he wants to pay forward.

“Carleton has never charged the full amount of what it actually costs to educate a student,” he says. “It seems appropriate now to recognize what Carleton did for me and do what I can to help sustain those opportunities for future kids.”

Spencer’s liberal arts education both prepared him for a wide range of opportunities in life (how many people can say they’ve both won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and competed as a finalist for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team?), and helped him develop a purpose in life. And having a life worth living, he says, makes education worthwhile-no matter how much income it brings in.

“Giving to Carleton fits our belief that it’s important to give to groups that can really make a difference,” he says. “And we thought the annuity was a fine way to make our final statement in the world.”