Building on a 40-Year Legacy

Thurman, Sahler, Cragin smiling togetherEighty-one women arrived in Annapolis on July 6, 1976, the first female members of the Brigade of Midshipmen. Thousands have followed in their footsteps, with women now comprising more than a quarter of the Brigade, holding leadership positions as midshipmen, serving with distinction in the Navy and Marine Corps and rising to the highest ranks of military, government and corporate service. A growing number of female Naval Academy graduates are looking for ways to give back to an institution that helped them prepare for such extraordinary success.

As the Academy marks the 40th anniversary of women midshipmen, the Naval Academy Foundation also celebrates the generosity of a few of the first female alumni to join the Robert Means Thompson Society, recognizing those who have included support for the Academy in their estate plans.

"The Academy gave me a great start in life," said Commander Katie Thurman '83, USN (Ret.). Thurman and her husband are longtime President's Circle donors, recognizing those who contribute $2,500 or more each year. "We give what we can now, and through our estate we can offer a final thank you for all the Academy has provided us, our family and its future."

The Thurmans established a bequest that ensures a portion of their estate will support the Academy. Their commitment to the Academy deepened when their son, Lieutenant Junior Grade Ryan Thurman '14, USN, currently a student naval aviator in advanced jet training, became a midshipman.

"He saw right away that there were other people like him at the Academy, with similar goals, passions and a desire to make the world a better, safer place," said Thurman. "We want to foster the environment to ensure future generations have the opportunity to serve and the tools to excel as they adapt to our country's evolving circumstances."

Maureen Cragin '85 hadn't considered attending an Academy until Navy recruited her to swim. "I am who I am first because of my parents and family, but a close second is the Academy," said Cragin. She and her husband have also committed a portion of their estate to support the Academy. "It helped me go out and see the world and grow as a person and a professional. It's important to make sure the Academy has all the opportunities midshipmen need to be the best officers the world can offer."

Cragin's classmate, Commander Christy Sahler '85, USNR (Ret.), is also a member of the Robert Means Thompson Society.

"I was in 8th grade when the academies first admitted women, and I thought going to one would be a really cool adventure and a great way to help pay for college. I applied to Navy, West Point and Air Force, and Navy recruited me to play basketball," she said.

Both of Sahler's sisters (Captain Erica Sahler '87, CEC, USN, and Duska Pearson '89) followed her to the Academy, as did her own daughter, Midshipman Tahler Bandarra '17, and niece, Midshipman Annika Pearson '19.

"The Naval Academy opened so many doors for me," said Sahler, who has also established a bequest of a portion of her estate. "All our lives have been touched in a positive way. It's important for me to give the Academy the funds it needs to help someone else."


© United States Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the United States Naval Academy Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to the United States Naval Academy Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 274 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to the Naval Academy Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Naval Academy Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to the Naval Academy Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and the Naval Academy Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the Naval Academy Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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