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Business Leader Recognizes Academy’s Impact on Life

Susan Leigh and Ken Shearer with their dog

Susan Leigh and Ken Shearer and their dog, Hudson

“Growing up, my grandfather and father taught me a lot about treating those around me from all stations in life with respect and kindness, as well as a strong work ethic and never-give-up attitude,” said Ken Shearer ’77. When he arrived at the Naval Academy in the summer of 1973, Shearer was pushed to his limits, physically, academically and professionally.

“The total experience at the Academy allowed these core values to be reinforced and leveraged in a way that shaped my character,” he said. Shearer thrived and developed his personal brand of leadership and a set of skills that would be honed for the next 45 years. The tough demands placed on midshipmen worked to Shearer’s advantage at the Academy, in the Navy and later in a career in sales and marketing that continues today. “I was challenged to buckle down, work hard, perform and take responsibility for my actions…no excuses,” he said.

Shearer spent five years at sea, mostly in the Western Pacific, before heading to corporate America and business school. “In the Navy I learned to process a lot of information, to separate the wheat from the chaff, to change course quickly and react under pressure—all foundational lessons for a business career,” he said.

Years later, as he and his wife, Susan, began considering which organizations they might recognize in their estate plans, they quickly included the Naval Academy Foundation. “Ken’s experience in the Navy and Naval Academy made him the man he is today,” Susan said. “He had exposure to things he never would have otherwise and became a wonderful leader who truly brings people along with him. Who wouldn’t want other young people to have that experience?”

In addition to current recurring monthly gifts, the Shearers have earmarked 25 percent of their estate for the Naval Academy Foundation’s Naval Academy Fund, with another 25 percent available to support other charitable organizations. In so doing, they became the 500th members of the Robert Means Thompson Society, which recognizes donors who support the Academy through estate and life income gifts.

While it will be many years before Ken and Susan’s gift is used by the Naval Academy, it will be counted today in Called to Serve, Daring to Lead: The Naval Academy Campaign. To have their estate gift counted, they provided the Naval Academy Foundation with a copy of the pages in their living trust that relate to their gift, and completed an Estate Commitment form. Both will be between ages 65 to 69 by June 30, 2020, so their gift will be counted at 80 percent of its current estimated value. Individuals and couples age 70 or older by June 30, 2020, can have their future gifts counted at 100 percent of current estimated value.

“It’s great to put a stake in the ground,” Ken Shearer said. “The impact the Academy has had on my life and the depths of relationships built there is huge. It’s one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.”

Make Your Future Commitment

Build your legacy by including the Naval Academy Foundation in your estate plan. By doing so, your gift may count toward our Called to Serve, Daring to Lead Campaign and help shape the next generation of global leaders. Contact Patti Bender at 410-295-4187 or plannedgiving@usna.com to learn more.

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