Great Chemistry

Sally and Howard Peters

Sally and Howard Peters '78 JD

For a man who grew up on a dirt farm near Hershey, Pennsylvania, landing a job as a chemist working on high explosives research for the U.S. Department of Defense seems quite the stretch.

"I came off a small farm two miles from where my German great-grandfather Caspar Peters started farming in 1860—it was about the time Sputnik went up," says Howard Peters '78 J.D. "I caught a wave into an amazing and unpredictable future and I am still on it."

First in his family to finish high school, Howard earned a bachelor's in chemistry at Geneva College near Pittsburgh. In the chemistry lab, he met his wife of 50 years, Sally. The two headed west where Howard completed his chemistry doctorate at Stanford and where they raised their two daughters—one a chemistry and biology teacher, the other a biotech executive.

Early on, Sally volunteered extensively, later returning to college for a master's in library and information sciences and a career as a technical information specialist. While working full time at SRI in Menlo Park, Howard earned his law degree from Santa Clara.

"We feel closer to SCU than to Stanford or to Geneva, both physically and emotionally," he says. "I found my law school experience to be one of finding a new and kind family, and also one of endurance."

Before retirement, Howard worked for 30 years as a patent attorney for Silicon Valley innovators. Today, the couple remains active, supporting many programs including one that encourages children from underprivileged backgrounds to use common household items to invent their own unique devices.

The couple recently won an American Chemical Society award for outstanding public outreach citing their entertaining presentation "Chocolate: The Food of the Gods." For nearly 20 years in the U.S. and cruise-ship lecture circuit, they've shared the history and explained the chemical attributes of chocolate to the non-science crowd—something inspired by Howard's Hershey days.

Howard and Sally enjoy membership in the Thomas I. Bergin Legacy Society, a recognition program for those who have made a provision for Santa Clara University in their estate plan. Through their legacy gift, they will support students with the greatest need, ensuring access to financial resources for future generations.

"Being a farm kid, I've had a different experience," says Howard. "I've learned that money's not worth much unless it's spread around to encourage young things to grow."

Like Sally and Howard, you can support the future Santa Clara University students with a gift in your estate plan. Contact the Gift Planning team at or 408-554-2108 today to learn more.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Santa Clara University 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 Santa Clara University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053-1400, 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 SCU 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, timeshare property, 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 SCU 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 SCU 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 SCU where you agree to make a gift to SCU 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.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address