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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

$1.2 million from longtime Lawrence couple’s estate will go to KU

February 14, 2013

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John and Frances Peterson spent more than 30 years in Lawrence following their retirement from government jobs in Washington, D.C., but then left for Texas to be closer to family.

But now a gift from their estate could live on even longer on the Kansas University campus, to the tune of $1.2 million.

That's the amount, in cash and farmland property, that the couple willed to KU, the KU Endowment Association announced Thursday. The announcement comes a bit less than a year after Frances' death in March 2012 at age 94. Her husband died in September 2009, when he was 88.

John Peterson earned bachelor's and master's degrees, in business and political science, from KU in the 1940s. In between, he served in World War II. The Petersons moved to Lawrence in 1974 after retiring from federal government jobs in Washington, D.C., and stayed until 2007.

The gift from their estate will go toward three purposes at KU: $470,000 to create an endowment for the Dean's Scholars program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; $230,000 to help the Department of Dance bring in visiting dancers and choreographers; and $500,000 to contribute to a renovation of the School of Music's recital hall in Murphy Hall as well as an international exchange program for music students.

Danny Anderson, KU's dean of liberal arts and sciences, said the gift would create the first large endowment for the Dean's Scholars program. That program awards renewable scholarships to a handful of top students in the College, while also connecting students with scholarship donors who can serve as mentors while also learn about students' college experiences today.

"It's a very important connection," Anderson said.

Dale Seuferling, president of the Endowment, said the Petersons supported the idea of renewable scholarships for students, even before that was the form most of KU's scholarships took.

"They sort of saw the value for that many years ago," Seuferling said.

The Petersons also enjoyed music and dance programs during their time in Lawrence, Seuferling said. Frances Peterson was a member of the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra.

Their gift to the dance department will establish an endowment for bringing visiting artists to campus. That's a practice that helps keep students and faculty connected to contemporary trends, Anderson said.

And for the music school, part of the Petersons' gift will contribute to a $1.5 million effort to renovate Swarthout Recital Hall.

The hall, more than 55 years old, is badly in need of some improvements, said Dean of Music Robert Walzel. Its seats and stage are weathered, and its technology capabilities and acoustics are outdated.

"It's a nice space, but it's worn out," Walzel said.

The music school will also use the gift for its summer exchange program that takes students to Eutin, Germany, Lawrence's sister city.

Walzel and Anderson both said the news of the gift was a thrill.

John and Frances Peterson both volunteered at Watkins Community Museum of History. John also was a member of the Kansas State Historical Society and wrote a book about early Lawrence architect John G. Haskell.

They were honored posthumously by the Douglas County Conservation District in 2012 for establishing a grassland buffer on their farmland in the western part of the county. That land was part of their gift to the Endowment, which will manage it as agricultural land and use the proceeds to benefit the KU programs.

Another $1.2 million from the Petersons' estate went to the Nature Conservancy.

Comments

parrothead8 1 year, 10 months ago

Dance, music, and the Nature Conservancy.

I love these people.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 10 months ago

The state should reduce the taxpayer funding of KU by that amount.

UneasyRider 1 year, 10 months ago

Typical Republican response. Tell someone that they need to get more private funds, then when they do, the Republican response is to cut their funding even more.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 10 months ago

Typical moocher response. If you actually paid some income taxes, you might feel the same way. Educational costs have risen 4X those of health care and no one seems to want to do anything about it.

ATR920 1 year, 10 months ago

You must have a bad life, always having to post negatively on every article. Are you upset because these generous people had a passion in life and what to see something they enjoyed in life benefit? Are you jelous because you dont have enough $ to donate to something in life? Or are you so pathetic that there is nothing in your life to be postive about and give $ towards?

Pastor_Bedtime 1 year, 10 months ago

That's how he rolls. His job is to make outrageous, extreme statements geared to make others want to distance themselves from those like him. He is omnicient and has studied your tax returns. Everyone is a mooch and he is the only taxpaying, productive citizen in his world. His America is one that cries out for a big moralistic government when the cause is a right-wing one, and no government at all when it comes to basic functions associated with keeping our nation functioning. The net result is that he functions quite effectively as a recruiter for those in opposition to all he stands for. He does his job well.

dwendel 1 year, 10 months ago

Those who can, do -- like the wonderful couple in this article. Those who Can't, whine, squeal and blame, and wonder why they're falling ever further behind. Why are you such a whiner, Can't?

Bob Forer 1 year, 10 months ago

My guess is that most folks who are hyper-critical of our educational system were not very good students and were less than successful in their academic endeavors.

UneasyRider 1 year, 10 months ago

Not that it matters to you, but I paid 5 figures of Income Tax last year to IRS and and additional 4000+ to state. What did you pay?

parrothead8 1 year, 10 months ago

If someone gives you a gift, do you ask for your own salary to be reduced by that amount?

fiddleback 1 year, 10 months ago

"Cant": KU's still one of the cheapest schools to attend, and they're scrimping left and right since their funding is already cut more deeply than just about any state school (the percentage of their funding from the state is now in the teens).

So contrary to your name, you manage to complain out of both sides of your mouth, both about paying income taxes and then about climbing tuition, as if the two are in no way related. I truly hope that your remarks are disingenuous trolling; if they were in earnest, then the bitterness and oblivious hypocrisy constitute a very sad self-parody indeed.

In either case, your sentiments could not be in starker contrast to the far-sighted generosity of the Petersons. Your reflexive sneers create an abject cautionary tale of selfishness, and are moreover so facile that they may as well be rancid spitwads flung at a battleship of integrity.

It's truly amazing how we can have so many warped imps on these forums who could not be more dissuasive about their far-right viewpoints than if they were secret liberals running a false flag operation...

MarcoPogo 1 year, 10 months ago

"So contrary to your name, you manage to complain out of both sides of your mouth"

Mouth? Try again.

UneasyRider 1 year, 10 months ago

Just so you can see it. My response to Cant_have_it_both_ways 11 hours, 24 minutes ago about being a moocher. "Not that it matters to you, but I paid 5 figures of Income Tax last year to IRS and and additional 4000+ to state. What did you pay?"

Starbrite 1 year, 10 months ago

What a generous gift! They were wonderful people and are greatly missed.

tyson travis 1 year, 10 months ago

Very generous gift! I've got the book on John G. Haskell, well-written and illustrated, got it at the Watkins Museum, well worth buying if they still have it. What a multi-dimensional couple.

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