Instilling Values of Generosity and Service
As a business and public relations major, Michelle Neumann Koch ’98 juggled classes and collegiate soccer while working jobs and internships both on and off campus to pay her college tuition. She received academic scholarships, work-study funds and student loans, but they didn’t cover the entire cost of her tuition. She remembers keenly the sole responsibility and accompanying stress that she shouldered while paying for her St. Thomas education.
When Michelle’s husband, Paul, entered her life, he introduced her to the concept of philanthropy and encouraged her to support causes important to her. Growing up, Paul witnessed his father’s daily example as a Lutheran pastor living in generous service to others. A Gustavus Adolphus graduate, Paul started giving early to his college and other organizations. Given Michelle’s experience, the choice to help remove financial stress for future students was obvious.
While awaiting the arrival of their first child six years ago, the Kochs made a will to protect their child financially and to ensure that their charitable intentions were documented and known. As Michelle and Paul determined their priorities for living and giving, they worked with St. Thomas advisors to create an endowed scholarship fund from their estate and became members of the Finn Heritage Society.
Philanthropic planning is an integral part of the Kochs’ comprehensive financial plan. “The planned-gift discussion should not be a deathbed conversation. It is a natural extension of our estate plan and helps us instill in our children the values of generosity and philanthropy,” said Paul. Michelle and Paul also want their children to know that they were engaged with their respective colleges and supported them financially.
The Kochs promote self-sufficiency and a strong work ethic to their young sons, Henry, Jimmy and Teddy. Paul reflected, “Michelle and I intend to provide our children every opportunity to succeed on their own. We subscribe to Warren Buffet’s philosophy of giving our boys enough so they can accomplish anything, but not so much that they do nothing.”