Lifetime Giving Societies
Loyalty, vision, legacy, and transformation. These words, sentiments really, capture the glorious history of generosity and passion for Beloit and Beloiters. The college is recognizing those that share a commitment to the college, its people, and its programs with newly created lifetime giving societies. Read on to see the impact that these instrumental benefactors have had on Beloit in their own right, and the impressive progress that is made by those that they represent.
Johnny Pfeffer Society
Loyalty. Little did Beloit’s first president Aaron Chapin know when he hired Johnny Pfeffer in 1866 that Johnny would prove to be one of the college’s most influential employees. Hired on as a custodian, or “Professor of Ashes and Dust” as the students called him, Johnny would serve Beloit for 51 years—service that extended well beyond his occupational duties. He was a dedicated and trusted employee and friend to the faculty and staff, and a mentor, a role model, and advisor to the students. He housed dozens of students over the years in the house that he built diagonally across from the president’s house.
He was not just employed by Beloit; he brought life and vitality to the campus community—this was his home. And, beyond the guidance and support that radiated from Johnny, he firmly believed in Beloit’s purpose and thus financially supported the college throughout his tenure. Out of a relatively unchanged $500 annual salary, he gave $150 back. His selfless generosity—financial and of self—is unparalleled.
The Johnny Pfeffer Society honors an unmatched loyalty to Beloit. Members have steadily given for 25 years and $25,000 or more to support the people, place, and experiences that make Beloit the kind of home today that Johnny Pfeffer would be proud to call his own.
Sereno T. Merrill Society
Vision. Continually seeking adventure and entrepreneurial endeavors, it seems destined that Sereno Merrill found his way to Beloit. As life tends to be, the unexpected was fortuitous for both Beloit and Sereno—he was Beloit’s first professor.
While waiting for a ride to Watertown, he was offered a position to teach at a seminary in Beloit. Following the students’ graduation, he continued teaching them in wait of the arrival of professors Bushnell and Emerson. This was Beloit’s first entering class. He was then offered the position of president and professor of all departments and he declined, seeking his next adventure. However, his ventures did not take him away from Beloit, the city or the college. While founding several businesses, including the Rock River Paper Company, O. E. Merrill (which became Merrill & Houston Iron Works and then Beloit Corporation), the forerunner to Fairbanks Morse & Company, two banks, and more, he served on the Board of Trustees for Beloit for 36 years. And, through his sage intellect and generosity, he made transformational changes to the city and the college.
The Sereno T. Merrill Society exemplifies vision, adventure, entrepreneurial spirit, and the importance of community. Members have given $100,000 or more, and enable unmistakable progress.
Laura Aldrich Neese Society
Legacy. Continuing a long familial history of support to Beloit—the college and community—Laura Aldrich Neese left a lasting print with her philanthropy and paint brush.
The first female on the Board of Trustees, Laura vibrantly served the college for over 20 years. She worked diligently for several community-based organizations as well and founded the Beloit Family Service Association. Laura was also an avid painter, and she was able to connect her passion to her legacy at Beloit. Today, you can see pieces of her donated artwork, which was exhibited around the country in her lifetime, at the Wright Museum of Art. Students and faculty alike can also benefit from her generosity through funding she provided for scholarships, a professorship, and acquisition of contemporary collections.
The Laura Aldrich Neese Society illustrates the difference that can be made when you follow your heart individually and philanthropically. Members have made it possible for generations of Beloiters to explore their passion—leaving indelible marks on Beloit and the world through cumulative gifts of $500,000 and more.
William and Gayle Keefer Society
Transformative. William (Bill) and Gayle Keefer exemplify a lifelong dedication of time, talent, and resources to Beloit. Initially connecting to Beloit through teaching in 1963, Bill served the college in myriad ways over the years. He was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1976-1994, chairing the Board for eight years and serving as a life trustee until his passing in 2008.
Through continual generosity—creating an endowed professorial chair, establishing a junior faculty fund, supporting scholarships, as well as the construction of the Center for the Sciences, just to name a few—the Keefer’s have changed the life of the institution and countless student lives. In fact, over the years, the Keefer’s opened their own home and hearts to many students from around the globe that dreamt of an education that only Beloit can provide. An education the Keefer’s made possible through their philanthropy.
The William and Gayle Keefer Society celebrates leadership, encouragement, and possibility. Members have forever changed the landscape of Beloit and inspired innovation and exploration through cumulative gifts of $1,000,000 or more.