Westmont Magazine How to Leave a Legacy and Retire Early
When Jim and Chris Anderson McClurkin were students at Westmont, their thoughts didn’t linger on retirement. Jim graduated in 1959 with a degree in history, and Chris attended for one semester before going on to nursing school. Their life together started in the Voskuyl Prayer Chapel, where David Hubbard married them. Even then they were open to God’s call to service.
I met the McClurkins in 1996, more than 30 years into their lives of service. Initially they focused on family as they raised two daughters who later became part of the Westmont community. Kathy McClurkin Lee ’93 graduated with a degree in sociology. Colleen McClurkin-Birge ’94 majored in kinesiology.
While Chris served in her chosen field of nursing (often commuting to Los Angeles from Santa Maria and later Ventura), she also carried on a ministry as caregiver to others in her family. Jim’s life of service is more diverse — from Christian education director to social worker. He became deeply concerned for youth, especially those with little or no family support.
Jim and Chris have always supported Westmont. Starting in 1959, they have been faithful givers for 40 years and joined the President’s Associates in 1995. They also decided to include a gift to the college in their will, so when the Wallace Emerson Society was established in 1993, they were included as Charter Members.
Thus, it is no surprise that the McClurkins looked to Westmont for a way to make a legacy gift that would provide lifetime income so they could consider early retirement. Their vision of retirement was not one of leisure, but rather a path to further service.
After exploring several types of planned gifts, they chose the charitable remainder unitrust model. By transferring some highly appreciated “Baby Bell” stock into a charitable trust, they bypassed payment of capital gains taxes, increased their income stream, and received a charitable income tax deduction. Because their payments equal a percentage of the value of the assets in the trust, their income will increase as the assets grow: a benefit for “young” planned giving donors.
What are Jim and Chris doing now that they are retired? Chris is learning how to live a “normal” life after so many years on the freeway. She is enjoying gardening and finally has time for their grandsons, Cameron and Gavin. Because Jim retired first, he has been one of his grandsons’ baby sitters — a joyful service. In addition to teaching and serving as an elder in his church, Jim is now involved in a new ministry: setting up a campus outreach program on the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, campus through the Santa Barbara Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Over the past three years, as I have learned about their “working years,” I have come to understand why the McClurkins needed to find a way to retire early. They have so much ahead of them as they continue to serve during the next 20 to 30 years — and they will leave a legacy for future students at Westmont!