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IRA Charitable Rollovers: A Win-Win

John Till

Susan Till and Rear Admiral John Till '67, USNR (Ret.)

Inspired by the World War II naval service of his two uncles, Rear Admiral John Till '67, USNR (Ret.), knew he wanted to pursue a career in the U.S. Navy. Till, however, had no idea how profoundly and positively his experiences as a midshipman and Naval Academy graduate would impact the rest of his life.

Till served in the navy for 36 years. As an active duty officer, he was in the nuclear power submarine program. He later transferred to the naval reserve and began his graduate education, earning an M.S. in Health Physics from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

In 1977, Till learned that his grandparents' farm in South Carolina, where he had spent much of his time as a youth, was in dire financial distress and on the verge of being sold. Despite the lack of professional opportunities in the area, Till and his family moved to South Carolina to help save the farm that had been in the family for several generations. He also started a scientific research company, a move that has allowed Till and his wife, Susan, to give back to the institution that has helped them achieve so much.

"There's no question in my mind that I never would have had the professional career that I had, never would have started my own company, never would have had the courage to move back to and save our family farm if I hadn't come to the Academy," said Till. He retired from the navy as a rear admiral in 1999 and continues to lead Risk Assessment Corporation, a science-based company that specializes in the transport of radioactive materials in the environment and their effects on humans. "It's all about what the Navy and the Naval Academy taught me: the motivation to do a good job, the drive to overcome obstacles and the belief in myself—qualities the Academy still teaches midshipmen today."

Today the family farm is financially sound. Till's company has become a leading international authority on historical radiation dose reconstruction and environmental data management. While Till's gifts in support of the Academy date back to the 1970s, in recent years he has been able to increase his contributions considerably through the use of IRA charitable rollovers (also known as a qualified charitable distributions, or QCD). Once an IRA owner turns 70 1/2, he or she needs to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from the account each year. Susan and John decided to donate a portion of their rollover proceeds each year directly to the Naval Academy Foundation—supporting the Academy's future, reducing their tax liability and making them eligible for recognition in the President's Circle, the Foundation's leadership donor society.

"There is no question that the IRA charitable rollover is a great opportunity for Naval Academy graduates to contribute to the future of their alma mater," said Till. "When you get to the point in your life when you're required to reduce retirement funds, IRA rollovers provide an opportunity to support the U.S. Naval Academy's mission: ‘to develop midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically, and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty."

Please contact the Office of Planned Giving by or call 410-295-4187 to learn more.

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