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Les Nelson '57 and his wife, Carol, are an energetic and dedicated couple who live in Issaquah, Washington. They are proudly of Swedish descent, and parents and grandparents to four children and 11 grandchildren. Les and Carol recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. When Les retired from his physician practice he quickly launched into his next career as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations. He and Carol have welcomed refugees to live with them, gone on mission trips to Romania and Mexico, supported a prison fellowship, and volunteered to help the homeless.
As if that weren't enough, they have another passion: giving to causes they believe in, such as Seattle Pacific University. "I owe SPU something," says Les, who graduated with a degree in chemistry. "I feel an obligation — but not a burden. There were a lot of important encounters for me."
Les has an approach to philanthropy that is distinct. He gives gifts of appreciated stock. "Each month I invest a sum of money with the idea that if it appreciates, we give it away. I do it because it's a satisfying way to create capital and pass it along," says Les. "Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but it's a way for us to be good stewards." The end result is regular and generous giving to Seattle Pacific that makes a difference in the programs the University can offer and the availability of scholarships for deserving students.
Carol enthusiastically agrees with her husband's commitment and approach. "We really believe in what SPU is doing as a Christian university. It's the right place to direct our giving."