Warm memories spark property gift

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Marion Michael and Keith Michael are former faculty members who have donated lake property to endow a theatre scholarship.

Marion Michael and Keith Michael are former faculty members who have donated lake property to endow a theatre scholarship.

With that extraordinary recall actors are known for, R. Keith Michael and Marion Michael spin story after story about the wonderful years they taught at St. Cloud State.

So warm are their memories, that the retired Indiana University theater professors are endowing a St. Cloud State theater scholarship. The Bloomington, Ind., couple has given the University an acre of lake property southeast of St. Cloud. Valued at about $185,000, the 500 feet of shoreline on Pickeral Lake will be sold to fund a single, annual scholarship, according to R. Keith.

“Acting students are like wine. You have good years and mediocre years,” said R. Keith.

“We had 10 years of terrific students at St. Cloud.” The Michaels recall the period 1960-71 as collegial and supportive. “The entire university was like a great family,” said Marion. “It was a wonderful place for the two of us to start.”

The Michaels decided to make their mark quickly, helping found the summer theater program at Lake L’Homme Dieu near Alexandria. Begun in 1961, the Theatre L’Homme Dieu continues today as a partnership between St. Cloud State and Alexandria theater supporters.

Among the most memorable experiences at St. Cloud State was a 1964 USO tour of military bases in Germany. R. Keith and students staged the Adler and Ross musical “The Pajama Game” for homesick, nervous soldiers stationed on the front lines of the Cold War.

Six years later the Michaels were providing outside-the-classroom support to students troubled by American military involvement in Southeast Asia.

“It was a really hard time,” said Marion. “Our kids were usually pretty liberal and they wanted to march. We did an awful lot of counseling and talking with the kids.”

In 1971, R. Keith was offered the chair of a new department of theatre and drama at the Indiana University in Bloomington.
Nearly four decades later the Michaels are revered as theater royalty in the Hoosier State, cited by professional organizations, universities and governments as distinguished servants of the stage. He and Marion retired in 1996.

Among the pearls of wisdom gathered during a half century in the theater is one shared by a Stewart Hall maintenance worker. “You measure a show’s success by the number of programs on the floor of the auditorium,” recalled R. Keith. “If they like the show, they’ll take the program home with them.”

Giving the gift of real estate
Ignite learning and discovery by donating property to the St. Cloud State University Foundation.

When you give property held for more than a year, you obtain an income tax charitable deduction equal to the property’s full fair market value. The deduction reduces the cost of making the gift and frees cash that would otherwise be used to pay taxes.

By donating the property to St. Cloud State, you also avoid capital gains tax on its appreciation. The transfer is not subject to the gift tax and the gift reduces your taxable estate.

Example: Mary gives the Foundation a vacation cottage she no longer uses. It originally cost $50,000 but is now worth $150,000. She gets a $150,000 charitable deduction, which represents a tax savings of $42,000 in her 28 percent tax bracket, and she completely avoids tax on the $100,000 of appreciation.

Learn more at www.stcloudstate.edu/foundation, or contact Eric Kautzman, associate vice president for development, at 320-308-4998.

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