Two Legacies, One Couple
Ed and Mary Littig believe in the power of education, higher education and Catholic higher education. So it's probably not surprising that they chose a scholarship as their way to leave a legacy at St. Ambrose. What is unique about the Littigs' story is that they had a part in two very different scholarship programs at the university.
During Ed's time as vice president for university advancement, the Mardi Gras event that had served as a university fundraiser for many years began to lose steam.
"My past experience had shown me that one of the arrows you need in your quiver in a fundraising program is a credible special event that brings people to the university who would have no other reason to be engaged," Ed explained.
Using his knowledge of the growing popularity of wine, he cemented the perfect partnership with Dimitri and Kathy '94 Papageorgiou to launch a new special event. Dimitri's business, Dimitri Wine & Sprits, Inc., would benefit from marketing and the university would benefit from a fundraiser. Together, they created a new event that benefited both parties; the St. Ambrose Wine Festival.
Today, the Wine Festival is a trio of yearly events that invite guests to enjoy wine and food while supporting student scholarships. In its 15 year history, the fundraiser has fulfilled and exceeded many expectations. To date, over $1 million has been raised for student scholarships.
It's quite a legacy to leave at an institution, but the Littigs didn't stop there. Driven by their passion for education, they worked closely with Sally Crino, Ed's colleague at the time, to create another legacy.
"As we came to retirement, it turned out that we had saved enough to make us secure, not rich, but secure. And we wanted to give to St. Ambrose. Rather than choosing the Annual Fund, this was a chance to target our gift in a particular way," Ed recalled.
The couple established a scholarship for students who use the Student Success Center, a department on campus that offers academic services through tutorial sessions, supplemental instruction and study groups in a low pressure setting at no cost. The Center's intent is to support undergraduate students in their learning and contribute to their growth and development as learners.
"We wanted to establish a scholarship to help students who don't normally receive scholarships," Mary explained. "Recipients can be sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and they can receive the scholarship for a number of years. We also identified that preference be given to students from Ottumwa, Iowa (Mary's hometown), Rock Island, Illinois (Ed's hometown), or areas nearby."
Although Ed was well versed in the world of advancement, he says Sally did the heavy lifting for the scholarship.
"She made it simple. We had straight forward conversations with her about what we wanted to accomplish. She supplied some language to assist with the restrictions, creating a scholarship that isn't too restrictive... and we don't want it to be."
Using multiple avenues, the couple will fully endow their scholarship next year. They communicated to friends and family that a donation to their scholarship fund was the perfect retirement gift for Ed. They also arranged a yearly payment plan that allowed them to provide a yearly scholarship immediately while simultaneously working to fully endow of the fund. Just recently, the Littigs used their IRA distribution to fund their annual contribution, a tool they highly recommend.
"If a person is older (at least 70 1/2), they need to consider giving out of an IRA because it doesn't come into their income stream, it doesn't affect their taxes, and it helps fulfill the minimum distribution requirement. It's an easy thing to do. Sally is very capable of looking at a person's situation and offering advice on how a gift can be given with the least impact to the giver while getting the most out of it."
The Littigs' legacy lives on at St. Ambrose, even as they have relocated to be closer to their children. However, they say the caring, supportive community at St. Ambrose is never far away. Despite the distance, they know they still have that support, and want to send a message.
"We just want everyone to know that we miss you and we remember you fondly."