"I would like to be remembered as a good teacher who helped many students,” says NIU 1957 College of Education graduate Bernice Kirkus. Bernice never doubted that she wanted to be a teacher. It's been more than 30 years since she stood in front of her class of third- and fourth-graders at the elementary school in her hometown of Waterman, Illinois. “I might have been having a bad day, but when I saw that first child and his or her smiling face, it would make me smile.” Bernice taught hundreds of children, and some have followed in her footsteps. Now she hopes to benefit a new generation of students and teachers at Northern Illinois University by establishing her third charitable gift annuity.
Bernice received her first teaching degree in 1940 from Northern Illinois State Teachers College in DeKalb. In 1957, the same year the college became Northern Illinois University, she earned her Bachelor of Science in education. “One of my fondest memories is attending a dance in 1939 at Altgeld Hall.” She remembers a magical night of dancing with a young man who would later become her husband, Kermit Kirkus. Bernice says she still has the gold dress she wore that evening. That's not surprising given Bernice's inclination to save things.
About 10 years ago she helped spearhead the creation of the Waterman Area Heritage Society. On most Saturdays, Bernice can be found at the society's museum organizing artifacts, books, and pictures—anything that tells the story of her birthplace, of which she is so proud.
She shares a similar fondness for her college alma mater. “NIU is dear to my heart,” says Bernice. A few years ago, she requested information on how a charitable gift annuity (CGA) could benefit NIU's College of Education and enhance her retirement income. The CGA offered a fixed rate of return for life while providing funding for the many needs of the College of Education. The charitable benefit and the payout rates that exceeded her CD rates encouraged Bernice to apply for two additional CGAs. “It supplements my income so I can live a little more comfortably,” she says.
Bernice is excited that her gifts will help NIU students on their journeys to rewarding teaching careers. “If I had to choose a career now, I'd be a teacher all over again,” Bernice says. At age 87, Bernice isn't planning on slowing down anytime soon. With Tuesday golf league, church activities, her work with the Waterman High School Alumni, and the Waterman Heritage Society, she has a lot of living— and a lot of giving—left to do.
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.