Chuck ’62, ’65 and Sue ’61, ’67 Bair: Qualified charitable distribution provision opens door for giving back

Chuck and Sue Bair
Photo by David Dinell
For Chuck ’62, ’65 and Sue ’61, ’67 Bair, WSU is a constant in their lives. Sue’s mother, Eunice Clary, earned a bachelor’s in art education at the age of 60. The Bairs’ sons are both graduates of WSU, too. Robert has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and William has two business degrees, one in finance and the other in real estate. The Bairs’ granddaughter, a violinist and College of Fine Arts major, will perform at Carnegie Hall with the WSU Symphony on May 30.

Elementary school can be a starting place for hopes and dreams. Charles Bair was in the sixth grade when he decided to be an engineer. Sue (Morrison) Bair was in the fifth grade when she knew she wanted to be a physical education teacher.

“I was always fascinated with the way things worked, be it cars, trains or planes,” said Chuck. “It was my sixth-grade teacher, Anna Blaylock, who told me about engineering.”

Sue asked her fifth-grade teacher if she could lead the smaller kids to the playground and organize them for recess. She was hooked.

Encouraged by his father, who was a tool maker for Cessna and a good mechanic, Chuck drove from Newton to the University of Wichita (WU) everyday to attend classes. Because WU was a municipal university at the time, he paid $250 per semester for tuition.

“I worked all summer as a laborer for Prestressed Concrete in Newton to save $500 to pay for the entire year. It was hard work,” said Chuck.

During his four years, he worked every summer in Newton and continued there part-time throughout each school year. Chuck earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1962 and became a Flight Test Engineer at Boeing.

Sue’s mother had moved the family to Wichita, ensuring closer access to a college education for her children. Always the athlete, Sue played softball and basketball, but knew she wanted to teach. While attending WU, she took classes in the mornings and worked afternoons as a dental assistant to pay for her tuition. She earned a bachelor’s in physical education in 1961 and became a physical education teacher at Roosevelt Junior High School where she had attended.

In 1965, Chuck completed his master’s in mechanical engineering while working full-time at Boeing and serving one semester as an adjunct lecturer teaching thermo dynamics II. After four years at Roosevelt, Sue returned to obtain her master’s in physical education, graduating in 1967.

A licensed Professional Engineer, Chuck spent 33 years as a test engineer and an engineering manager for test programs at Boeing, while Sue spent 33 years at WSU in the department of kinesiology and sports studies, teaching K-12 physical education. She continued her involvement in women’s sports through coaching and refereeing. Sue recently was honored as one of the Pioneer Women in WSU athletics.

It was during her tenure at WSU that Sue witnessed the continued struggles of students working to pay for tuition or taking on the burden of student loans. Firsthand experience in providing student support came when her department held a garage sale with proceeds designated to the Dr. Gladys Taggart Scholarship. Taggart was a former department chair and professor emeritus.  

“That’s when I realized I could make a difference,” said Sue.

Upon Sue’s retirement, the department honored her in the same manner by establishing the Sue F. Bair Scholarship. The Bairs continued their financial support of WSU, taking advantage of Boeing’s matching gift program. In addition to her scholarship, they contributed to the College of Engineering and women’s athletics, but they felt they should do more.

“It was something we’d been discussing, so when I learned about the qualified charitable distribution provision, it was a no-brainer,” said Chuck.

The qualified charitable distribution (QCD) provision allows individuals, age 70 1/2 and over, the option of transferring, tax-free, up to $100,000 from an IRA to a qualified charity. This provision allowed the Bairs to fulfill yet another dream, that of giving a student the opportunity to graduate without a lot of debt. They established the Charles G. Bair Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering.

“These students need our support; they need to know someone cares,” said Sue. “It’s our hope others will do the same, just keep doing what you can to take care of our kids.”

To learn more about how you can take advantage of the qualified charitable distribution provision, which is schedule to end on Dec. 31, 2011, please contact Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned and annual giving, at (316) 978-3804 or mike.lamb@wichita.edu.

© 2014 Wichita State University Foundation

Wichita State University Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.