Proud Ichabods establish everlasting gift

McPhails are supporting athletics, forensic science with gift in their trust

Gary and Mary Lou McPhail

Gary and Mary Lou McPhail

Mary Lou and Gary McPhail took advantage of affordable family entertainment by going to Washburn basketball games when Mary Lou, bs '84, was a part-time student earning a criminal justice degree.

Now, more than 30 years later, they are still energetic Ichabod fans and regular financial supporters of Washburn University. With a gift in their estate plan, they are guaranteeing their passion to support Washburn will be part of their legacy.

Mary Lou got into basketball games free as a student, their two young sons — now Washburn graduates — got in free, and Gary got in for just $3.

"That's the way it started, as cheap entertainment for our family," Mary Lou said.

They later adopted basketball players when Washburn played in the NAIA. This allowed them to get to know players personally and have a lasting impact on their student-athlete experience. They reconnected with one of those players years later and learned he was a principal at a school and was working on his PhD in education.

Inspired by the student-athletes' success in the classroom and on the playing field, the McPhails established the McPhail Family Athletic Scholarship Fund as another way to support student-athletes.

"Seeing these kids on Senior Day or during banquets, it really impresses me to hear about what they've done academically," Gary said. "They're able to do all that and play ball."

Their estate gift will create and endow two funds — one for forensic science scholarships and the other for unrestricted use for athletics.

"About four years ago, we decided to set up a trust," Mary Lou said. "We met with our attorney, who said that will take a lot of the worry away. We picked a few of our favorite charities to support, and Washburn was at the top of our list."

Mary Lou worked for the State of Kansas for 31 years, including 17 years for KBI, and Gary served in the Air Force and then worked for BNSF Railway in accounting. Mary Lou served as president of both the Washburn University Alumni Association Board and Washburn Women's Alliance. She is involved with the American Business Women's Association local chapter, which has awarded Washburn students more than $350,000 in scholarships in 35 years.

"Everybody loves Washburn in that group. We're happy to give," she said.

Their estate gift will continue their legacy of giving back.

"We like the feeling that long after we're gone, our money will be helping others get their education like I was able," she said.

Imagine the difference your gift to Washburn could make for a future student. Learn more by contacting Jeannie Shy at 785.670.2734 or

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