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Lininger Life Insurance Creates Legacy

Lininger Life Insurance Creates Legacy

Death, by definition, may be a life ending, but not when the driving force of that life has been channeled to help others in perpetuity. Creating a legacy that will fulfill the dreams and aspirations of others is what Sharon and Neal Lininger crafted when they created a scholarship endowment funded by a life insurance policy. The policy will establish a $420,000 scholarship fund at Sharon's death.

"Rocky Mountain College is grateful for the fantastic legacy gift created by Neal and Sharon," said RMC President Michael Mace. "We know it will give them great satisfaction to know their generosity will positively affect the futures of countless students pursuing career and life dreams, and to do so while they are both alive and well."

The legacy gift is an example of "powerful philanthropy," said Obert Undem, RMC director of planned giving.

"Wishing to express their appreciation for the role that Rocky has played in their lives and thousands of others who benefitted from Rocky educational experiences, Neal and Sharon have the great joy and satisfaction of assuring that their experiences can be replicated by future students much as they knew them 50 years ago," Undem said.

According to the Liningers, their motive was simple: "We love the college," Neal affirmed.

The Liningers met at Rocky in 1958 when they were freshmen students. He was from Polson, but took all his high school music courses at Kalispell; she was raised in Sidney, but graduated from Richey High School. They were from opposite corners of the state, but they found paths to their shared futures at Rocky.

"We actually got engaged in December of our freshmen year," Sharon said.

They stayed committed even when Neal transferred to Eastern Montana College when Rocky no longer offered the music major he sought.

"I remember taking a sociology course on dating and marriage from a chaplain at Rocky and we were the example of a relationship that would never work," Sharon laughed.

The Liningers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June.

Sharon graduated in 1961 from Rocky while Neal graduated the same year from Eastern. Both earned master's degrees (Karen earned two, one in English and a second in Library Media) and Neal, also earned his Ph.D in music.

They enjoyed a lifetime of teaching. Sharon taught English, French and drama, before specializing in library media. Neal was a music director. Both retired from the public school system in Aurora, Colo. where they still live.

"What we did for Rocky seemed obvious to us because we believe so strongly in what Rocky does. When we were back in May (when they were honored at the RMC President's Dinner and they attended her 50th RMC Class Reunion) we felt the same family spirit we knew when we were students," Sharon said.

"The students we met, while only a few, were really impressive. We had no doubt that we were doing the right thing," Neal continued. The life insurance policy, issued on Sharon's life, also worked to the Liningers' advantage, Sharon and Neal noted. "We had IRAs from which we were required to make withdrawals and, needing nothing personally and not wanting to pay the income taxes, it was without question a great time to set up a planned legacy gift at Rocky. We hope others will decide to do the same after learning of our satisfaction in having done so. It was simple, fun and the cost was greatly reduced by avoiding substantial income taxes we would otherwise have had to pay this year."

Basically the Liningers' $420,000 policy will eventually fund an endowment that should provide $16,880 per year to help students, Undem said. The first year's premium was $45,000 and the following nine annual premiums will be $15,000, after which there are no more premiums. Depending upon tax laws of those years, the premiums may be paid by non-taxable transfers from the IRA with such transfers not taxable to the Liningers but metered against required IRA distributions, or may be paid personally by the Liningers, in which case their payment will be income tax deductible. The insurance policy is owned by and payable to Rocky at Sharon's eventual death, which, of course, is hoped to be many years in the future.

The scholarships will be designated for students majoring in fine arts, which was Liningers' preference.

The Liningers also hope their gift may motivate others to consider similar gifts to Rocky.

"It allows someone to do something really great for students down the road," Neal said.

The grimness and morbidity of death has been replaced by creation of opportunities for future students.

"Rocky is a wonderful institution. It's that simple," Sharon said.

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