Torchbearer Stories


Both our donors and the beneficiaries of their generosity have stories to share.

Read their stories below:


Shining Stars

Astronomer couple Donna Weistrop and David Shaffer recently realized a way to advance research beyond their own careers—philanthropy.

Caltech Legacies

Frederic “Fred” Selleck (BS ’49) found many ways to stay close to his alma mater: He served as president of the Caltech Alumni Association, regularly attended Reunion Weekends, and, once, crashed a Halloween party at Ricketts with his pre-teen son.

A Sound Investment in Caltech Music

Through her gift to create the France Hughes Meindl Endowed Fund for Music, France Meindl established a legacy of support for two sources of much happiness in her life—music and the Caltech community.

Recognize this Alumnus?

Living in Blacker House, this alumnus witnessed a number of house antics. There were elaborate, ephemeral courtyard structures constructed for the annual Interhouse Dances, including a pirate ship, a beanstalk of giant proportions, and a Mississippi River showboat.

Numbers Man

Winston Garth is Caltech through and through. He signs receipts with a formula instead of his name. He has a 3-D printed salt shaker. Every day, he records the weather, his solar panels’ output, the altitude of solar noon, and the azimuths of sunrise and sunset.

Caltech Legacies

Jack Roberts fell in love with science at Caltech. As a teen, the Los Angeles native relished attending community open-house sessions on campus. He would marvel at the shooting sparks in a high-voltage laboratory or at rare reactions in the chemistry labs.

Sharing a Love of Caltech, One Gift at a Time

The late Anthony J. Larrecq (BS ’29) had such deep appreciation for his alma mater that he wanted the people he loved to be connected to Caltech in some way. Through philanthropy, he made his wish come true

Recognize this Alumnus?

This alumnus spent most of his undergraduate years at Caltech not with housemates but with two fellow commuters who rode with him in his huge black Buick from Alhambra to campus and back every day.

It’s easy to set up a charitable gift annuity

Caroline and George Woodruff had experiences that many people only dream of: They slept under the moonlight near the pyramids in Egypt, camped on the banks of the Seine in France, and celebrated Carnival in Brazil.

John Crossman Donor at [charity_name]

The Gift of Opportunity

For John Crossman (BS ’62), a scholarship made the difference that allowed him to attend Caltech. His education as an engineering major went beyond the realm of the slide rule. He gained a framework for approaching problems—and, really, for approaching life itself.

Caltech Legacies

Larry Curfman (BS ’60) arrived at Caltech by train from his native Wichita, Kansas, at only 16 years old. As an undergraduate, he studied chemistry (although his housemates at Ricketts remembered him for his jazzy piano stylings). His next stop after graduation was Harvard Law School—a surprising choice for a chemistry alum until you consider Curfman’s reputation as a student who excelled in his humanities electives at Caltech.

Rhonda MacDonald Donor at [charity_name]

Thirty-Five years, and Counting

Since 1981, Rhonda MacDonald (BS ’74) has made at least one gift a year to Caltech—and through her estate plans, that record will continue far into the future. With her gifts to commemorate class reunions and also pay tribute to the late George W. Housner, Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, she has helped Caltech provide exceptional educational opportunities for students.

Robert L. Noland Donor at [charity_name]

Recognize this Alumnus?

Enroll at Caltech? Impossible. The young man had the intelligence and the desire, but he knew that each term at Caltech cost $100. That was beyond his means. As his graduation from San Diego High School neared in 1938, he decided on the University of California, Berkeley.

Shang-Yi Ch’en Donor at [charity_name]

Legacy of a Millikan Protégé Lives on Through a Professorship

In 1997, Eugene Ch’en was combing through the files of his deceased father, Shang-Yi Ch’en (PhD ’40), when he came across a stack of letters.

Spring Luncheon

Torchbearers Celebrated at Spring Luncheon

The group of 70 Caltech supporters escaped a spring rain shower when the garden event was transformed into a convivial luncheon in Dabney Lounge.

Fred Selleck Donor at [charity_name]

Fred Selleck

This alumnus first learned about Caltech in an unusual venue—his grandfather's church. As a little boy, he heard Robert Millikan address the congregation about science and religion.

James and Charlotte Fedde Donor at [charity_name]

James and Charlotte Cordes

Even the most promising scientists seldom get a chance to focus entirely on research. As students, they're busy with classes and homework; as faculty members, they..

Richard B. Wright Donor at [charity_name]

Richard B. Wright

Hailing from Akron, Ohio, Richard Wright arrived at Caltech in 1946 to study mechanical engineering. By his sophomore year, 80 percent of his classmates were returning...

Robert P. Balles Donor at [charity_name]

Robert P. Balles

Robert “Bob” Balles has greatly enjoyed a life in mathematics, as both student and teacher. The New York City native graduated from Fordham University and traveled....

Steve and Mie Frautschi Donors at [charity_name]

Steve and Mie Frautschi

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....