Honoring the Past, Planning for the Future

Known as Buck or Bucky, to his friends, Bradford Morris Gearinger OPC ’58 and his wife, Paula, returned to Penn Charter for his 25th reunion, in 1983.

“We walked in to Timmons House,” Paula Gearinger, his widow, recalled, “and two men handing out nametags had their backs to us. They turned around, saw Buck and exclaimed, ‘Why, it’s Bucky!’ And from that moment on, they were reminiscing about old times and it was like 1958 all over again. I witnessed time travel that weekend,” she joked.

When not time-traveling back to days at Old Penn Charter, Gearinger was a Vanderbilt Law-educated attorney, living in Akron, Ohio. A personal injury lawyer at a firm he and his law partner started after working in insurance defense, Gearinger did well.

“He was very highly regarded among his colleagues,” said Paula Gearinger. So highly, in fact, that the Akron Bar Association renamed its professionalism award after Buck.

“Pretty good for an ambulance chaser,” she quipped, fondly. Gearinger died on May 30, 2017; the bar association’s award was renamed posthumously.

Gearinger loved Penn Charter. Class historian for ’58, he relished his friendships and stayed in touch with many, and was grateful to those who called and visited him. Fellow PC lifer and classmate Bill Weart and his wife, Stevie, visited Buck and Paula in Akron regularly. “Bill was very close to Buck,” Stevie said. “They remained friends to their death. They argued a lot about politics, but they were secure in their friendship.”

Chief Development Officer Jack Rogers Hon. 1689 was great friends with Gearinger. “Buck was an everyman; the sweetest guy with a great family. I loved him.” Rogers said. “He had a big impact on the Class of 1958 Fund.”

In 2008, Gearinger gave $10,000 to the Class of 1958 Memorial Fund for Faculty, which his class established to recognize the 50th reunion. He and others worked to inspire their classmates, and the fund grew.

“Buck really appreciated his education at Penn Charter and felt it prepped him for his career,” said Paula Gearinger. “And, Buck appreciated the sacrifices his parents made for him [to attend Penn Charter]. There was a lot of wealth at PC, but he wanted to contribute what he could,” she said.

After the 50th, Gearinger set up a charitable remainder trust so that he and Paula could draw from it while they were living, and Penn Charter would receive what remained. But, following Buck’s death in May 2017, Paula Gearinger decided to arrange her finances in a way that meant Penn Charter received the remainder, just over $253,200, earlier than expected.

The majority of the funds from the Gearinger trust – $250,000 – was directed to the Class of 1958 Memorial Fund for Faculty, once again a significant boost to the fund, propelling the total past $340,000.

The balance of the trust, $3,200, was given to the Annual Fund.

A humble man, as Rogers called him, Gearinger would say he wasn’t a stellar student. But his wife begs to differ. “Buck was intelligent,” Paula said. “He read a lot. He said his educational institutions – Penn Charter, Sewanee: The University of the South, Vanderbilt Law – taught him to think.” The Penn Charter faculty, those he honored with gifts to the fund, were among the first who gave him the tools for critical thinking.

And thinking Gearinger did. Through planned giving, he protected his family in preparing for the future. And, with his gifts to the Class of 1958 Memorial Fund for Faculty, the class historian honored teachers and friends from his past, while thinking about the future of the school he loved. PC

Class of 1958 Memorial Fund for Faculty

Established by the Class of 1958 at their 50th reunion to honor classmates who have passed away and in recognition of faculty who taught them. This particular fund is unique in that it serves to provide additional financial support to an exceptional faculty member who has shown extraordinary talent and leadership both in the classroom and in other areas of student life. With this fund, the Class of 1958 wants to celebrate and honor the unparalleled dedication of a particular individual who epitomizes the true spirit of character that is the Penn Charter teacher.

To learn more about how you can include Penn Charter in your estate plans, please contact Chief Development Officer Jack Rogers at jarogers@penncharter.com or 215-844-3460 ext. 111.