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Carlisle Memorial Gift Funds Garden Gates


“A happy marriage has in it all the pleasure of friendships, all the enjoyment of sense and reason—and indeed all the sweets of life,” penned Joseph Addison, the 18th century English essayist and poet. He could have been writing about a Brighton couple who grew to love a campus as beautiful as their marriage and friendship.
Sandy and John Carlisle lived a classic love affair—the kind of marriage everyone hopes to have. During their 50 years together, they established planned gifts to the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, MSU Horticultural Gardens and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
After John’s death in 2006, Sandy wanted to create a special memorial to him. She found an ideal solution in the creation of gates to the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden which were designed, built and installed by John and Sandy’s close friends, Cary and Jesse Stefani, a father and son team. 
Sandy has always had an artistic flair, making unusual finds from salvage stores into treasures around their home. She wanted the garden gates to be works of art with an “organic” feel and look to their design. The Stefanis took this to heart in creating gates that go well beyond mere functionality to become sculpture. The unique steel and bronze gates feature a plant-like design with finely-crafted finials and hinges of hammered cast bronze. 
It is quite fitting that this gracious memorial is so close to the Main Library. John received his B.A. in English and his Master’s in Business from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. He spent many hours during his education in a library setting. John and Sandy’s primary connection to MSU was through the Master Gardener Program which they both successfully completed.
Sandy used the IRA Rollover Provision charitable gift opportunity to fund the gates. Individuals who are 70-1/2 years or older may satisfy an annual distribution requirement by directing a gift from an IRA to MSU.  The donor’s distribution comes directly to MSU (or another non-profit). An IRA rollover gift may not be claimed as a charitable deduction nor is it considered taxable income. The funds may be directed toward an area of interest to the donor. 
Sandy is so pleased with the gates that she is also planning to fund a set of handrails for the main entrance.  The Stefanis commented that they thoroughly enjoyed the entire project, working with Sandy and MSU, and they plan to continue their partnership with the handrails. Jeff Kacos, director of Campus Planning and Administration and chair of the Public Art on Campus Committee, hopes to enhance all of the stairways into the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden with similar artistry of distinctive gates and handrailings. “Sandy’s gift in memory of her husband is not only a wonderful tribute to him, but also creates a welcoming entry to the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden,” Kacos said. “Sandy’s vision and her gift are real assets to the campus.”
For information about making a gift to the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, contact Director of Special Gifts Karen Wenk at (517) 884-1084.