The joy of giving back might well describe Joyce and Bert Elsner's attitude toward including Gettysburg College and other important causes in their estate plans. To hear them talk about why they've done so is to be inspired at the deep joy they feel.
A modest and unassuming couple from Hanover, Pennsylvania, Joyce and Bert were high school sweethearts. Joyce Hamm Elsner graduated from Gettysburg College in 1958. Bert graduated from Lehigh University the same year. Both have been active in their class reunion committees at their respective schools and both have included their alma maters in their estate plans.
Well-known civic and community leaders in both Hanover and Adams County, Pennsylvania, the Elsners are perhaps best known as a Gettysburg College family. All three of their children graduated from the college: Cynthia (Winter) in 1982, Leslie (Bell) in 1985, and Bert II in 1995. Their passion for the college has led to much service and involvement. Joyce is a college trustee and serves on the Sunderman Conservatory Oversight Board. She and Bert participated on the college's Commission on the Future. Both were also on the Board of Fellows and the Parents Association Board. Many of their closest friends are alumni and faculty of the college. Joyce and Bert frequently attend college and Majestic Theater events.
"We've had a unique perspective to learn to know many students and faculty—they're amazing," Joyce says, "The school and our future are in good hands. It's important to give back to ensure that Gettysburg's progress continues. It's our responsibility to help provide similar opportunities to coming generations."
The Elsners first included the college in their estate plans about 15 years ago. "We saw a need," Bert said. "The college needs significant support. For us an estate gift makes sense. Our family comes first, but we can also support Gettysburg College, and it feels good to have done it. When you give, you get back much more than you ever put in. It's very rewarding." Their children support what Mom and Dad have done. "We're trying to instill a sense of philanthropy in them, too," the couple said.
Including Gettysburg College or any charity in your estate plan is a highly personal act. It bears testimony to important values and causes in your life. It is an opportunity to give back and to provide opportunities to future generations. It can also be a source of deep joy. Just ask Joyce and Bert Elsner.