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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

A Gift that Gives Back

Lefty and Carla ColeLefty and Carla Cole love the University of Wyoming. They both got their degrees here, as did most of their children and grandchildren. Now retired, they attend all the football and men’s and women’s basketball games, and there have been many UW functions at their Vee Bar Guest Ranch.

The Coles worked hard throughout their lives. They are Wyoming natives, but they moved all over the West while Lefty worked for Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc., a national construction firm. When he retired, they bought the Deerwood Ranch in the Centennial valley. To supplement their ranching operation, the Coles ventured into land development and hospitality with the Vee Bar. Other family businesses include Deerwood Log Homes, the Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse EcoSanctuary, and the Country Junction store in Centennial.

With much hard work and a little good luck, the Coles have been able to retire comfortably. They’ve supported the university with a number of gifts over the years—for which the university is very thankful—and they also provided for UW in their estate through a gift annuity. Their gift  will provide scholarships through the Cowboy Joe Club, as well as benefitting the Alumni Association.

“We’ve been real fortunate in our business, and we just love the university,” says Lefty. “We wanted to give back as much as we could.”

“It’s just rewarding that it’s going to be used for a good purpose,” adds Carla.

Their charitable gift annuity will be of great benefit to UW students, but it also will give the Coles income in their retirement.

For a charitable gift annuity, donors gift cash, securities, real estate, or other property to UW in exchange for fixed annuity payments for the rest of their lives. Payments are based on the age at which the annuity is established, and the donor is entitled to an income tax deduction on a portion of the gift. Typically, only a portion of each annuity payment is taxed, with the balance being tax-free. When the annuity terminates, the residual benefits the UW college, department, or program that the donor designates.

“More people should take advantage of that,” says Lefty. “If you’re in the ranching business, it’s harder than hell to ever come up with any kind of a retirement. Through our land development business, we ended up with pieces of property that didn’t get developed, and so we sold one of those properties and that’s the money we used. We get a return on it through both of our lifetimes. The interest rate is right in there. It’s just logical. And maybe it’ll do somebody some good, and at the same time we’ve got a retirement fund. I don’t think you can beat it.”

If you are interested in learning more about charitable gift annuities, please contact Tracy Richardson, Senior Associate Vice President for Gift Planning, at (307) 766-3934 or trichar6@uwyo.

The Coles's Deerwood Ranch


Top: Carla and Lefty Cole 

Bottom: The Coles's Deerwood Ranch

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