Donor Stories and Legacies


An “Irish” Commitment

Mary and Bill Fitter revisit where they met at National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

For England native Bill Fitter, the decision to attend medical school at the National University of Ireland, Galway, was the turning point of his life. “That’s where I met my wife, Mary (Doyle), and since then, we’ve been on a great journey.” That journey has taken them from Ireland, to Canada, and now to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bill and Mary are the first generation in their respective families to attend college. “Like our parents before us, and most everyone of Irish extraction,” says Bill, “we believe education to be of tantamount importance.” Falling just below faith and their Church in terms of ultimate priorities, education has proven again and again to be something the couple is willing to invest in and sacrifice for.

In 1993, their son graduated from Notre Dame. Years of visiting him on campus confirmed for them the value of Notre Dame’s unique role as a Catholic university in a secular world. Bill and Mary made tangible their commitment to Notre Dame by establishing a charitable remainder trust and then by deeding their seaside condo, near Santa Barbara, California, to Notre Dame in 2012, retaining the right to use it during their lives.

There were a number of reasons for doing so. “First,” says Bill, “the value of the condo will increase substantially, eventually providing a major endowment to the University.” In the interim, the couple can continue to use the condo as they wish, until they pass on or relinquish their remaining interest to Notre Dame. A second major advantage, of course, is the considerable tax break the couple received in 2012, as well as the estate tax savings they will pass on to their children. Upon deeding the property, the Fitters claimed an income tax deduction in 2012 for a significant portion of the real estate’s value, even though they can continue to use it.

Both gifts represent a lasting legacy, one that will speak of the Fitters’ profound belief in education long after they are gone. Befitting his profession, Bill and Mary have asked that their gifts ultimately be used to advance medical research at Notre Dame.

A physician specializing in pathology, William Fitter is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.