The Frautschi family has had a long relationship with Caltech—a connection that has been linked with their love of music. Amateur musicians themselves, Caltech professor emeritus of theoretical physics Steven C. Frautschi and his wife, Mie, encouraged their daughters and Steve's students to involve themselves in music, seeing this as important to young people's development. In addition to teaching physics since 1962, Steve has promoted cultural and performing arts at the Institute and enjoyed many student performances.
One of Steve's favorite memories is of taking groups of students to the opera, a unique experience he believed was "something they wouldn't be doing spontaneously." During his tenure as Master of Student Housing, Steve chaired a committee that made recommendations to improve students' performing arts experiences, including providing better practice facilities. He always wished that student music groups had a dedicated rehearsal space.
In an issue of the Caltech Office of Gift Planning's newsletter, Techniques, Steve came across an article about a physics colleague, Caltech professor emeritus Dr. Felix Boehm, and his wife, Ruth. Reading the article, Steve learned of the Boehm's gift of a Colorado property to the Institute. The piece ignited the idea of giving to Caltech because the message, in Steve's words, was "closer to you when someone you know has done it." Steve realized that "it's not just the wealthiest that make planned gifts to Caltech." Mie, who shares her husband's vision, suggested giving their Aspen, Colorado, condominium to Caltech in order to fund a rehearsal room.
The Frautschis often spent entire summers in their Aspen vacation home when the girls were young. As Laura and Jennifer grew older, the family used the condo less and less. The property, which increased in value over time, eventually provided Steve and Mie the opportunity to create a legacy at Caltech. The Frautschis established a charitable trust funded with their condo. The gift will provide a stream of income for Steve and Mie during their lives, offer them tax benefits immediately, and, best of all, enhance the arts for Caltech students. Their trust will one day fund the Steve and Mie Frautschi Band/Orchestra Rehearsal room. This gift will realize Steve and Mie's generous vision that Caltech students have adequate facilities in which to enjoy music.