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Donor Stories|University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

Bill Baker, a Lifetime of Supporting Education 

Bill BakerAlthough he did not receive his degrees from the University of Wyoming, Air Force flyer and long–time student mentor Bill Baker has adopted UW as his own. 

"I am very pleased with my association with the University of Wyoming," Bill says. 

Bill has designated the university as the sole beneficiary of his IRA. His designation will support scholarships for students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources through the Bill and Jeanette Baker Agricultural Scholarship. 

Making a gift through an IRA is one of the simplest and most tax–efficient ways to make a charitable gift. Unlike more complex estate planning techniques, the only implementation requirement is to complete a change–of–beneficiary form. Passing the same amount of money along to your heirs as beneficiaries of an IRA could potentially subject the IRA and your heirs to income and estate taxes at both the state and federal level. Designating an IRA as a charitable gift for UW is tax–free. 

Supporting the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

There are many reasons Bill might have chosen to support UW and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Bill's wife, Jeanette, and many of her family members earned their degrees at UW. He was associate dean of admissions and assistant dean of engineering at Texas Tech, teaching professional ethics and engineering economics. Bill also fondly remembers his youth on his grandparents' Tennessee dairy farm, as well as his first job in Wyoming on the Vee Bar Ranch west of Laramie. Above all, Bill is an openhearted and supportive friend who has spent his lifetime helping students with their educations. 

Bill has lived quite a varied and interesting life. He grew up in Dickson, Tenn., southwest of Nashville, and spent a lot of his youth on his grandparents' dairy farm. Bill earned a bachelor's degree from Austin Peay State College (now a university) in history and English grammar. 

He then joined the Air Force and flew 739 combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam wars, some of them harrowing, and even survived a plane crash. While in the service, he taught at Michigan State University and then received his masters in foundations of education, eventually transitioning to cadet advisory services. 

Bill retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Of the 17 medals and ribbons he earned, the Distinguished Flying Cross is the one of which he is most proud. 

After he retired from the Air Force, Bill got a job at Texas Tech University as associate dean of admissions. While at Texas Tech, he earned a master's degree in agricultural economics, otherwise known as microeconomics. He eventually served as assistant dean of engineering, which included industry relations. 

He taught engineering economics and ethics, contributed to the book Engineering Ethics – Concepts, Viewpoints, Cases and Codes published by the National Institute for Engineering Ethics, and served as moderator for the fourth annual Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism symposium series. 

After working at Texas Tech, Bill served as a college relations executive and manager for corporate giving for Halliburton Services, Inc., once again helping students connect with their educations. 

Making Wyoming Home

The first time he came to Wyoming was on his way back from Alaska in 1958. He enjoyed it so much he vowed to return, and after taking retirement from Halliburton, he managed the Vee Bar Ranch for a year. Because his brother was a member of Saratoga's Old Baldy Club, his brother suggested it might be a good place for Bill to retire, and so he moved there and met and married his beloved wife, Jeanette, who is a retired schoolteacher. 

Bill and Jeanette lived in a sun–filled log house with a panoramic view of the Saratoga valley. Bill enjoys photography, upland game–bird hunting, fly–tying, and fly–fishing. Unfortunately, after 58 years of type 1 diabetes and a stroke that left her partially paralyzed, Jeanette now lives in Saratoga's Deseret Nursing Home. 

"The world is going to need bright, educated young farmers and ranchers to feed a hungry world's population," says Bill. "We'd like our legacy to be that we helped educate the ones who meet that need." 

You Can Make a Difference

You can easily make a difference in students' lives by leaving a gift of your retirement plan assets. For information on this and other planned giving options, contact Tracy Richardson at (307) 766-3934 or today. 

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