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

Read their stories below:


Torchbearers Legacy Society Appreciation Luncheon

The threat of a spring rain could not dampen the spirits of attendees at the annual Torchbearers Appreciation Luncheon on April 13.

From Devotees to Donors

Valerie and Jeffrey "Jeff" Engle are passionate about science's ability to evoke wonder and fuel progress.

A Scholarship Offer That Changed Everything

When Ron and Shirley Hsieh suggested that their younger son, Scott, take the SAT at the same time as his older, college-bound brother, they intended it to be a simple exercise in test taking. They had no idea how it would affect the trajectory of Scott’s life.

Recognize This Alumnus?

If you were a member of the Caltech band or attended any of their performances in the late 1960s or early ’70s, you might recognize this alumnus.

Open Door, Open Heart

All people, including the timid, the brilliant, and the free-spirited, were welcome at the home of Jeffrey Goldsmith (MS ’95). Every Monday and Saturday for more than three decades, he brought out his personal collection of 1,000 board games and encouraged friends to play.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus lent his bass voice to the Caltech Glee Club, performing bright Broadway tunes as well as somber Gregorian chants for audiences throughout California.

Coming Full Circle

Paula and Uri Bernstein support scholarships with a bequest to the place where their relationship blossomed.

Couple Establishes Scholarship Fund for Middle-Class Students

For more than 87 years, JPL has opened doors to the universe. For Gail and William "Bill" Robinson, the famed lab managed by Caltech opened doors of opportunity.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus grew up in Alhambra, just a 10-minute drive from Caltech. He saw his high school’s most talented students pursue their passion for science and engineering at Caltech. As an aspiring physicist, he was eager to join them. 

Building a Bridge between Ideas and Solutions

Gwendolynn “Lynn” Taber says she always felt like a teenager when she was near John Taber (BS ’46). She was 65 years old when she met John, 76, on a hiking expedition in New Zealand in 2002. After spending the day outdoors, the pair would go shopping and eat dinner together. John even bought her a scoop of ice cream. 

Supporting Future Students

While Richard Campbell (MS ’77) only spent one year at Caltech, the Institute had an outsized impact on his life and career. So much so that he recently set up a bequest to support scholarships. 

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus wanted to be a physicist from the moment he learned about the profession in grade school. So, when an uncle who lived in Pasadena told him about Caltech, he knew right away where he wanted to get his education.

An Employee’s Dream of an Education Lives On

The legacy of World War II is incalculable. The war preserved freedom, ignited a Cold War, and changed the trajectories of many lives—like that of Sophia Su-Hwei Yen.

Gratitude for Caltech Fellowship Inspires Planned Gift

By the time William (Bill) Pegram (MS ’85, PhD ’89) arrived at Caltech, the St. Louis native had already completed a self-designed bachelor’s program in computer science, philosophy, and linguistics and obtained an MBA (concentrating in economics and public management), both from Stanford University.

Building a Path to Success at Caltech

Growing up in Elverson, a small Pennsylvania borough, Thomas McCord (MS ’66, PhD ’68) knew more about cornfields and wild game than major research universities.

Recognize This Alumnus?

If you attended Caltech during the early 1960s—or were visiting from a nearby college—you may have met this alumnus at a Dabney mixer. If you didn’t socialize with Darbs, you may have played with him in the band, in which case you surely will remember how the director, John Deichman, secured a gig on Disneyland’s Main Street and scored each band member an entire book of E tickets.

Here’s to Great Engineers

Earlier this year, Dorlene Root faced a big decision: Whom would she name in her will? She was pleasantly surprised to discover that some of life’s biggest decisions end up being the easiest ones.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus wrote part of his dissertation at Santa Monica State Beach. He would study the DNA of bacteriophages, then look up to enjoy views of the ocean with his first wife, Marilyn Huskey.

Father-Son Bond Lives on with a Gift to Caltech

The late experimental nuclear physicist William Rodman (Rod) Smythe (BS ’51, MS ’52, PhD ’57) lived life according to a distinctive ethos.

One Professorship, Two Gifts

There are almost as many ways to make a gift to Caltech as there are reasons people decide to support the Institute. 

A Gift That’s All in the Family

The Nickerson family’s connection to Caltech goes back decades and runs deep.

A Legacy for Young Engineers

The Miki F. Young Charitable Trust has three trustees: lawyer Bill Kruse, banker Maureen Finn, and accountant Steve Eperthener.The Miki F. Young Charitable Trust has three trustees: lawyer Bill Kruse, banker Maureen Finn, and accountant Steve Eperthener.

Computing the Impact of a Gift to Caltech

When Richard Kenyon was in junior high school, he became fascinated with the beautiful patterns of mathematics.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus says he learned from the best. But, as he describes it, his greatest insights did not originate in laboratories or classrooms.

Space in Her Heart

Lynn Heronen’s reverence for space predestined two major life decisions: whom she would marry and whom she would include in her will.

Easy Decisions

Caltech parent Paul Robinson called Caltech’s Office of Gift Planning with a plan of his own: He wanted to establish a deferred annuity. “I had already set up this kind of investment plan with my own alma maters, so I know how they work,” he says. “And I know they work for me.”

For the Love of Birds—and Caltech

Masakazu (Mark) Konishi translated his childhood love of animals into pathbreaking discoveries about the behaviors of songbirds and owls.

A Heartfelt Gift

As director of financial aid from 2007 to 2019, Don Crewell helped keep Caltech’s financial aid program competitive with those of peer institutions. But his dedication extended beyond his professional duties.

In Case You Missed It: Undergraduate Life at Caltech Today

An annual luncheon in the garden of the president’s residence has been a Torchbearers highlight for years. In 2020, physical distancing required Caltech to take the event online.

Remotely Enthusiastic

Graduating senior Sarah Crucilla describes her Caltech experience, both on-campus and remote, and conveys a special message to Torchbearers.

Caltech Professor Helps Future Students

Two generations of Corngolds make a gift through the Break Through campaign to endow a fellowship for Caltech graduate students.

Rushton Hays: A True Friend to Caltech

A love of education and “a bit of a passion for engineering” inspired a generous scholarship bequest.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus wants new generations of students to enjoy their education and reap the rewards of Caltech credentials.

“It Feels Good to Give”

Building on her 25-year connection with Caltech, Mary Ann Cloyd, a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, chose to include the Institute in her will. Planned gifts such as hers are helping propel Caltech’s Break Through campaign. She talked with Techniques about what inspires her.

A Gift with a Long View

As a young boy in El Sereno, a neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, Allan Markowitz was fascinated with astronomy.

John Dienes on Good Ideas

When John Dienes (MS '58, PhD '61) planned his philanthropic legacy, just one place came to mind. "I only thought about Caltech," he says.

Recognize This Alumnus?

This alumnus laced up his cleats for the Caltech football team as a freshman and competed throughout his college career in interhouse games, which tended to get "a little rough for touch football."

A Legacy of Devotion to Service and Caltech

The late Joseph Walters Lewis Jr. (BS ’41) used to recall ambling down Caltech’s Olive Walk as a child, hand-in-hand with his father. His dad told him, “This is where you’re going to school, and you’re going to be an engineer.” And so it was to be.

Recognize This Alumnus?

Hailing from Spokane, Washington, this Caltech alumnus and music maven enlivened The California Tech with reports on classical and opera performances.

Torchbearers Legacy Society Appreciation Luncheon

Nearly 100 people attended the 2019 Torchbearers Legacy Society Appreciation Luncheon, which was hosted by President Thomas F. Rosenbaum and Professor Katherine T. Faber at their residence.

One Act of Generosity Begets Another

Barbara Swain struck up a friendship with then-JPL scientist Dennis Le Croissette and his wife, Jill, shortly after they became Pasadena neighbors in 1977. Their rapport would abide for the rest of the couple’s lives.

A High-Flying Career and a Plan to Give Back

During many years at the helm of both commercial and military aircraft design at Boeing, John K. “Jack” Wimpress (MS ’48) left an indelible mark on aerospace, earning an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aircraft Design Award for leading development of an experimental short take-off and landing military transport.

Recognize this Alumnus?

Hailing from Spokane, Washington, this Caltech alumnus and music maven enlivened The California Tech with reports on classical and opera performances. He was relegated to right field in freshman baseball but finished with a .500 batting average in all of two at-bats. Elected pope of Dabney, he served up witty recitations to his housemates after dinner.

Giving May Be Its Own Reward—But It Doesn’t Have to Be the Only Reward

Charitable gift annuities offer you the chance to give and receive. In this case, you give $25,000 or more to help Caltech’s faculty and students change the world with science and technology, and you receive guaranteed fixed payments for life.

A Present with a Future Mind

“Harrison Brown helped me realize that, rather than simply focusing on personal accomplishments, I could work toward making a real difference in the world.”

Recognize this Alumnus?

Just two semesters before commencement, he was drafted. He trained to be a combat engineer in Korea, a role he was told would have a 70 percent casualty rate.

Shining Stars

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

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.

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).

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.

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.
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....