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Mother of Two Academy Grads Provides for the Academy’s Future and Her Own with a Charitable Gift Annuity

Kathleen BranchKathleen Branch might seem an unlikely candidate to make a planned gift to the Naval Academy Foundation in the form of a charitable gift annuity. She's not an alumna, and she didn't grow up in a Navy family. But that all changed back in the early 1990s.

The single mom from Minnesota was visiting Annapolis on vacation with her sons Matthew Zarracina, then 12, and Alan Zarracina, then 8. The two boys watched the Naval Academy Visitor Center film "To Lead and Serve" and were hooked. Both went on to attend and graduate from the Academy, and both became aviators—Matthew in the Navy, Class of 2001, and Alan in the Marine Corps, Class of 2004.

"Their years in Annapolis were just amazing," said Kathleen. "I had no husband or brothers, and the Academy helped my sons become men and realize their dreams."

Little did Kathleen know that her sons' Naval Academy experiences would have a transformative impact on her own life. Looking for advice on helping Alan navigate the typical challenges facing midshipmen, she was introduced in 2002 to Captain Daniel B. Branch Jr. '59, USN (Ret.). A widower and former nuclear submariner, Daniel remained very involved in Academy life as a donor, an Athletic and Scholarship Programs trustee, a Blue and Gold Officer and an active member of the Colorado alumni chapter, serving at various times as chapter president and Shipmate correspondent. Eight months later the two married in Annapolis.

"He was the love of my life," Kathleen said. The couple traveled the world together, making regular trips to Europe and coming to Annapolis several times a year for President's Circle Weekend (an annual event recognizing donors in the Naval Academy Foundation's premier leadership giving society) and for football games and other celebrations.

Daniel lost a battle with cancer in 2013, but Kathleen's relationship with the Academy and the Foundation continues. She is a President's Circle donor and recently became a member of the Robert Means Thompson Society (RMTS) by establishing a charitable gift annuity (CGA) with payments deferred to age 65. RMTS honors donors who have provided for the future of the Academy with a life income or estate gift.

With her CGA—an opportunity she learned about during a President's Circle Weekend planned giving workshop-Kathleen transferred assets to the Naval Academy Foundation and earned an immediate income-tax deduction for a portion of her gift. In exchange, the Foundation will provide her fixed payments for life after she turns 65. After she passes away, the Foundation will put the remainder to use.

"I want to be able to show my gratitude to a great institution that has given so much to me and my life," said Kathleen. "With the CGA, I am able to be generous but still make an investment in my own future. So I am happy, my tax accountant is happy—and the Foundation is happy!"

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