A Lasting ImpressionAlthough they hadn’t been on campus in more than 40 years, Gene BS ’57 and Norene BS ’59 Slacks’ time at Anderson University many years ago left a lasting impression. So much so, that upon their passing, they recently donated their entire estate, worth more than $800,000, to AU.
“Words can’t express our gratitude,” said Ronald Moore, senior development consultant at AU. “I believe the donation is confirmation of AU’s pledge to stay in good standing with alumni and friends. This — the knowledge of extended connection to the community — provides comfort beyond the tangible impact the donation will have.”
By the Slacks’ wishes, the estate will be split evenly between the biology and business administration departments on campus, according to Moore.
“It will be a tremendous boost to the biology department,” said Dr. Janutolo, dean of science and humanities. “It will supplement our income, something we are excited about in such economic times when budgets are being curtailed.”
Janutolo said the money will help the department in two ways. First, it will allow the purchase of equipment so students can be more competitive in their employment and in going on to graduate or medical school. Second, the endowment will increase money for the general budget each year, again providing more supplies and lab equipment for their students.
Dr. Terry Truitt, dean of the Falls School of Business, also expressed gratitude for the bequest aiding the business administration department, indicating that plans for use of funds were still being developed.
Although the Slacks had likely not been on campus since their departure, they spent several years on campus while pursuing their degrees. From 1951-1957, the Slacks both worked at Anderson University while also attending classes. Gene worked at the Physical Plant and Norene worked in various positions, including housekeeping and business office cashier. They left for a couple years, and then came back so that Norene could finish her degree in 1959. Gene also came back to campus to become the director of Physical Plant operations, a position in which he served until 1963. Moore, who was a student employee in the business office during that time, remembers Gene as a kindly and gentle man.
According to Norene’s nephew, Jess McCoy from Columbia City, Ind., Gene and Norene had a voracious passion for education. After leaving AU, Norene taught biology and general science at Highland High School in Anderson and worked part time at Coe College. She was also a writer for the Olean Times-Herald daily newspaper and the Alfred Sun weekly newspaper in Alfred, New York. She did graduate study in plant physiology and qualitative chemistry at Ball State University.
Gene was an administrator of mechanical operations at various colleges and universities, which allowed the couple to live in different areas of the country throughout his career.
Upon retiring, the Slacks relocated to North Fort Myers, Fla., where Gene did volunteer work at the local libraries until his death.
“They were both avid readers and favored mystery novels,” said McCoy. “Until Gene's death, the television was only turned on for news and weather, and occasionally Court TV or C-span.”
McCoy said the Slacks were of modest means through most of their working careers, but they inherited a quantity of stocks upon the death of Gene’s parents. Although they had lived in many states, their first love of the AU community and their ongoing passion for education prompted them to leave their estate to a place that remained in their hearts.
- Kimberly Walker, Excerpt from 2008 Donor Report