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Donor Stories

Graduates and friends support the Air Force Academy for a variety of personal reasons. When they include the Academy as part of their estate planning, they help ensure others are able to have similar experiences, impacting cadets for years to come.


Bill Clifford '76

Always driven to serve, Bill Clifford graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1976 and served as an F-15 Eagle pilot in Germany.

Julian Gluck '12

For Capt. Julian Gluck, a B-52 pilot and flight commander at Barksdale Air Force Base, service means more than just his Air Force career; it means continually finding opportunities to make a positive impact.

David Schutt '71

David Schutt '71

While David Schutt '71 has had a very successful career as a doctor, it was not possible without overcoming challenges, staying positive and focusing on the new door that opened after one closed.

Ed Mechenbier '64

Ed Mechenbier, USAFA Class of 1964, regularly expresses the mantra “Unity through selfless motivation.” The West Virginia native began his Air Force journey as an F-4C Phantom II pilot.

Chris Taravella '73

Chris Taravella '73

In 2006 Chris Taravella '73 returned to Colorado, which allowed him to serve the Air Force Academy in numerous ways.

Bud Nevers

Bud Nevers '76

As a financial advisor, Ralph “Bud” Nevers ’76 coined a new definition for the term “dust bunnies,” and they aren’t the kind you will find lurking under beds. His dust bunnies are forgotten or orphaned financial accounts.

Mike '69 and Vivian Rose

Mike Rose '69

“My life would have been totally different, and not as good, had I not graduated from the Air Force Academy,” says Mike Rose ’69.

Jim West ’59

Jim West ’59 has a financial instrument that did not even exist “back in the day”: the individual retirement account. He finds it to be a “marvelous way to give back,” especially for those who have reached the age of 70 1/2.

Roger Hill '70

After graduating from CS-16, Hill became a C-130 pilot. After earning a master’s degree from George Washington University and separation from the Air Force after nine years, he headed to commercial carriers.

Larry Fariss '75

For Larry Fariss ’75, the USAFA experience always involved giving his time.

Jerry Smith ’62

When Jerry Smith ’62 read how his classmate and respected friend, Jack Swonson ’62, encourages the creation of a “Mack Truck Book” to enable surviving spouses and heirs to smoothly handle all the complexities of modern life, he took action.

Greg Gonyea '73

Greg Gonyea, a proud member of the Air Force Academy Class of ’73, is grateful for how the Academy prepared him to serve the Air Force.

Fred Olmsted '64

As a former fighter pilot who survived 300 combat missions in Southeast Asia, Fred Olmsted ’64 finds pleasure in giving back to the Air Force Academy. It trained him well.

Jack Kucera ’78

A business challenge for Jack Kucera ’78 became a terrific philanthropic opportunity for the United States Air Force Academy Endowment.

Jack Swonson '62

When Jack Swonson '62 made some recent changes to his estate plans, he took it a step further, developing a thick, loose-leaf binder he calls his Mack Truck Book.

Max James ’64

Max James ’64 and his family have maintained a long and deep association with the Academy ever since the Tennessee native became a Zoomie. Some of his helicopter rescues during his Southeast Asia combat tours were fellow grads, which was personally very rewarding

Ivan Perry ’05

“The Air Force Academy was one of the best things to happen to me,” says Ivan. “it prepared me well for the rigors of serving in the heavy-combat zones, and now in my civilian career I am constantly drawing on the leadership and academic attributes I learned during my four Academy years.”

Jerry Roberts ’65

Jerry Roberts is quick to acknowledge that the Air Force Academy was a shaping force in his life, from the moment he arrived in the summer of 1961.

Jim Shumate ’79

Recently Jim Shumate redrew his estate plans, and there is now a provision in his will to benefit the Air Force Academy. The 1979 graduate resides in Colorado Springs where he retired from active service as a Colonel in 2004.

Lisa (Preston) Schmidt ’88

When Lisa (Preston) Schmidt arrived at the Air Force Academy in 1984 she already possessed her private pilot’s license. In fact, she had it before her driver’s license. “I was excited to attend USAFA knowing that I could only begin to fathom the unexpected places, geographically and figuratively, it would take me,” says the Long Island native.