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Laurence Rathsack's Legacy: Discovering Wondrous Mysteries

Laurence Rathsack

Laurence Rathsack. Photo: Tom Wojciechowski ('76 BFA Art)

Expressway in Fog

Laurence Rathsack, "Expressway in Fog," 1971. Watercolor, 30 x 22 inches. UWM thanks Tim Murphy ('77 BFA Art) for permission to reproduce this work from his collection.

Laurence Rathsack's Legacy: Discovering Wondrous Mysteries

Students crowded into his studio each semester, competing for a place in Professor Laurence Rathsack's drawing and painting class. Now through a generous bequest from his estate, Rathsack's legacy as a master painter and inspiring, beloved educator will live on.

Rathsack's close relationship with art, education, and UWM spanned seven decades. He grew up in Milwaukee and received his teaching degree from Milwaukee State Teacher's College in 1943. In 1956, he joined the faculty of his alma mater, soon to become UWM. He served on the UWM visual arts faculty for over 30 years, and became revered for teaching foundational to graduate level classes in drawing and painting.

Laurence Rathsack achieved critical acclaim for his provocative experimentation with the act of seeing using the medium of watercolor. Reflecting on his work in 2005, he stated, "The world is a most complex and challenging place. With time, however, I have found the simple things to be the most difficult to truly grasp. The reality of water or time or space, for example, have become wondrous mysteries to me."

Rathsack touched the lives of thousands of students early in their artistic development. Those relationships often continued long past graduation, and sometimes lasted for decades. After retiring in 1988, he continued to teach the Watercolor 101 class for several years. He remained a close friend of UWM until his death in 2008. At his memorial service, many former students affirmed Rathsack's seminal role in their decision to pursue careers in art, art education, or other fields of study.

Tim Murphy '77 (BFA Art) led a group of former students to launch the Laurence Rathsack Art Scholarship in 1998 to honor his influence and commitment. The scholarship supports undergraduate majors in drawing and painting with artistic excellence and financial need. Murphy recalls that, for Rathsack, it was "all about the students. He saw his own education as crucial to his teaching of new generations. In his classroom, artists and educators of the past, present and future were threaded together like a strand of pearls." Throughout his life, and now with his bequest, Laurence Rathsack has made it possible for students to discover wondrous mysteries.


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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the UWM Foundation 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

Bequest Language

"I give ($___)(___% of my estate) to the UWM Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation with its principal office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the benefit of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, (as an unrestricted gift) (to be used in support of....)." 

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

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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.

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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 the UWM Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

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