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Bill and Sue Osborne: Giving the Gift of Surprise
Ask Bill Osborne ’67 about his recollections of Seattle Pacific, and he mentions the friendships formed in college and appreciates the intimate size of the classes at the University. “But I think my best memories are from when I met Susan,” Bill said.
Susan Gantenbein Osborne ’68, however, contends that Bill didn’t seem to notice her at first. Every week, Sue and her roommate attended church at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington.
“Bill would drive a carload of students over to Westminster Chapel. That’s how I first met him was on those drives … but he always had a girlfriend on his arm!” Sue laughed. She was just a passenger in the backseat of his car.
On a church retreat in the fall of 1966, Bill and Sue began talking. “The spark kind of started there,” Bill said. A week later, he asked her out for a date, although neither can remember what they did or where they went. Did they see the movie Doctor Zhivago, or was that a later date?
Bill graduated in 1967 with a degree in business administration. The two exchanged letters while Bill was at Coast Guard boot camp, and Sue completed her degree in English along with a teaching certificate. A year after Sue graduated, the couple married in 1969.
Bill went on to have a successful career in health care finance. Sue taught for four years and then stopped teaching to raise their two kids. In her 40s, Sue discovered a new passion with a job in her children’s high school library. She returned to school to earn a master’s degree in educational library media and worked as a school librarian for 17 years.
A few years ago, the Osbornes chose to include SPU in their estate plans and created two endowed scholarships close to their hearts — one to support Seattle Pacific’s library; the other to fund teacher education scholarships. They decided to begin funding the education scholarship now to benefit current SPU students.
For special education major Lillian Biddle, the Osbornes’ scholarship has made all the difference.
Last summer, Lillian traveled to Poland and the Czech Republic to take a month-long course on the Holocaust. “It was an incredible experience,” Biddle said, “but I knew it was going to create some financial stress for me when I returned.”
Biddle has worked at multiple jobs on and off campus while consistently earning a spot on the Dean’s List as she’s pursued a degree in elementary education with a certificate in special education.
But when she reviewed her student account charges in the fall, she was surprised to discover she was the recipient of the Bill and Sue Osborne Education Scholarship. “It almost exactly matched the amount I needed to fill in from going on my study abroad program over the summer,” Biddle said. “I told my mom this was such a God thing to find out I got this money that I didn’t know was coming to me. It was amazing and wonderful!"
In addition to their planned future gifts and endowments, the Osbornes checked into setting up a Charitable Remainder Unitrust with Seattle Pacific. After careful research, they had high confidence in the management and investment abilities of the Seattle Pacific Foundation.
“Establishing a Charitable Remainder Unitrust with Seattle Pacific University means we are able to withdraw our investment funds from a volatile stock market at a reduced tax liability and move the money into the trust,” Bill said. “Over time, the principal contribution to the trust will provide us with a continuous, predictable income that increases as the invested funds grow.” The charitable remainder trust will also provide additional funds to both of their chosen endowments in the future.
Bill and Sue, who will be celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary in June, are happy to provide a legacy to help future generations of SPU students like Lillian Biddle. To date, seven students have benefitted from the Osbornes’ endowed scholarships.
"It's a win-win for us and SPU," Bill said.
– Shelly Ngo, editor, Response magazine and SPU stories