(c) Laura Jenski, 2015
Office of the President
Western Michigan University
November 16, 2003
153 Via Bellaria
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
It was wonderful to see you and your lovely wife Lynda at WMU’s Bronco Roundup last month. The alumni section of the homecoming parade wouldn’t be the same without you at the wheel of your famous Bronco-Mobile, pulling the float of Bronco Babes from your chain of gentlemen’s clubs. The float is always a crowd pleaser, particularly for the fraternities. We’re hopeful that next year the Babes will find sturdier straps for their costumes, to cut down on those unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions. Seventeen falls from the balconies of the Greek houses is a new record for WMU.
I’ve given substantial thought to your offer to build a new sports complex for WMU. As always, your generosity to the university is an inspiration and model for all alumni of our great institution. I must tell you, our master planning team thought your idea for renaming the team based your favorite TV show was sheer genius. The Bob Denver Broncos is unlikely to be overlooked by any sportscaster, regardless of his or her enthusiasm for Gilligan’s Island. Unfortunately, our legal counsel stumbled upon some pesky trademark problems that make it impossible for us to accept your remarkable donation.
I asked our human resources director to follow up on your proposed endowments for the coach and assistant coach salaries, or as you so cleverly called them, Skipper and Little Buddy. Apparently there has been a small issue, so to speak, with the assistant coach’s masculine anatomy, which led to the little buddy nickname coined earlier by the graduate assistants. I will confer again with the director, but I believe her recommendation of “no, never, this absolutely won’t happen” indicates some obstacles for these endowments.
Nancy and I look forward to dinner with you and Lynda when we are next in Palm Beach. Perhaps at that time we could bounce around a few ideas for endowing scholarships, certainly a great need at WMU these days. I’m eager to get your input on how we might help more students to attend the university we love. Go Broncos!
March 18, 2005
I hope you got home safely from the Alumni Bronco Cotillion in Scottsdale last month. We missed Lynda and hope she is over the bug and feeling better. The ABC—your ingenious name for the gala has certainly stuck like Krazy Glue in all our minds—is not the same without both of you on the dance floor. You’ll be pleased to know that all four of your substitute dance partners are recovering well from their foot injuries and only one is still in a cast.
Your most recent generous offer, to buy the properties north and south of Stadium Drive, generated a great deal of discussion both on campus and in the Kalamazoo community. The vision for a 90-acre track and field complex that you so passionately articulated is revolutionary and would truly make WMU Sports the talk of the town for many years to come. Unfortunately, legal counsel has advised that we may face a few bumps in the road. If it were simply my call, we could manage the fallout from the hostile takeover of the Ford dealership, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Staybridge Suites. It seems, however, that the Lake Preserve was bestowed to the community ad infinitum and with a few strings, to which your marvelously detailed plan for draining and paving appears to run contrary. I am disappointed to once again find myself in the sad position of declining your thoughtful gift.
I understand that you will be at the Foundation Board meeting in September. Perhaps at that time we could chat about the tremendous impact an endowment for scholarships would make at WMU. I’d love to see the George and Lynda Stephens scholars following in your amazing footsteps. Go Broncos!
June 7, 2006
This is just a quick note to let you know that the twelve bronze bronco statues arrived on campus yesterday afternoon. What a surprise—totally unexpected I can tell you! Your copious gifts carry a lot of weight here—three hundred and eighty four tons, according to the director of the physical plant. He predicts that we can fix the cracks in the loading dock before the end of summer. The chemistry department chair tells me that bronze is almost nine times as dense as water. I guess us business majors missed that lecture when we were in college. Ha, ha.
Apparently we’ve encountered a little hiccup with acceptance and display of the statues. I’ve argued that the facial likenesses of the last twelve U.S. presidents on the 10-foot statues shouldn’t be problematic. Unfortunately, legal counsel is toying with a different opinion, based, he says, on the placement of the likenesses on the rears rather than the heads of the horses. I plan to revisit this issue with him once he returns from the emergency mental health leave upon which he embarked late last evening.
You may be interested to learn that the WMU Foundation has started a new scholarship program for students hailing from Wayne County and the surrounding area. I know that’s your old stomping ground—perhaps you’d consider being a founding donor for the program. Let’s talk soon.
Too bad Lynda is under the weather and not planning to make your annual fall trek up north for Bronco Roundup in October. Please tell her she’ll be missed. Go Broncos!
January 25, 2007
There simply are not words to express our deepest sympathies for your loss. Nancy and I considered Lynda the dearest of friends, and grieve for the Earth’s loss of this wonderful angel. We can only pray that her passing was without pain. It must be great comfort to know she was surrounded by her loving family at the end.
Thank you for endowing the Lynda R. Stephens Scholarship. I know you are unconcerned about the size of the gift, but please allow me to mention that the amount, the largest donation ever at WMU, will fund at least twenty full-ride, four-year scholarships in perpetuity. Lynda would have wept with joy. I did.