Elaine Lee looks forward to seeing her scholarship at work for students

Making an outright gift provides some benefits that an eventual estate gift may not

Elaine Lee
Elaine Lee

Elaine and David Lee always intended to set up support funds for their alma maters through their estate plans — Elaine for Wichita State University and David for Clemson and the University of Virginia.

    But after David’s death in 2012, Elaine gave more thought to the benefits of establishing those funds now — primarily the opportunity to help craft guidelines for how the money should be used and having a chance to know scholarship recipients.

    “I was interested in knowing what kinds of students are getting these scholarships, their progress and accomplishments,” Lee said during a phone interview from her home in Woodbridge, Va. “I may not have a chance to meet them, but I can learn who they are and follow how they’re doing.”

    Lee created the Mrs. Elaine Cunningham Lee and Dr. W. David Lee Scholarship in Bioscience, an endowment that will help WSU students pursuing fields such as biology, genetics, biochemistry, bioengineering and biophysics. She also established a planned gift that will support the scholarship fund.

    Lee said she started giving the idea of an outright gift more thought after reading a Horizon article about another donor who faced the same decision — whether to make a gift through his estate plans or immediately. He chose an outright gift and was gratified by seeing the difference he was making in students’ lives.

“Wichita State provided me with an opportunity for a college education that I would not otherwise have had.”

- Elaine Lee

    A 1964 graduate of Wichita State with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, Lee received a scholarship all four years of college.

    “Wichita State provided me with an opportunity for a college education that I would not otherwise have had,” she said. “I want to provide this kind of support for someone else interested in getting an education in the biosciences.”

    Lee worked for a time at Wesley Medical Center in hematology, then applied for a job with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), becoming a research technologist for the Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. She and David met in Wichita while he was working for Boeing; they married in 1969. After he received his doctorate in physics from the University of Virginia, he became a research physicist for the Department of the Army at Fort Belvoir, Va.

    Lee returned to the NIH as a cytogenetic technologist, combining her training as a medical technologist with her love of genetics. In 1990, she moved to a position as a technical writer and served as a liaison for the National Cancer Institute. She and David retired in 2003.

    Through the years, Lee has kept up with news at Wichita State and regularly donates to the Annual Fund. Her decision to endow a scholarship has another benefit, Lee said. She can advise friends and family that any memorial they choose to make in her honor someday can be directed to the scholarship she created. “That would honor me and help young students at the same time.”

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