Although Homer and Betty Jones did not attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the 40-year Pulaski County residents have supported UALR music programs, the opera program, and the NPR public radio station hosted on campus for many years.
Homer, aged 83, is a retiree of Union Pacific Railroad whose love of opera might be surprising to some. Sixty years ago, in fact, he starred as Frederic in his college production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. When UALR students present this comic opera in April 2007, funds raised will help build the University’s opera endowment fund, aptly named the Homer T. and Betty U. Jones Opera and Vocal Arts Endowment.
“I think all music departments need financial help,” Homer says. “Classical, serious music has been loved by people all over the world for centuries. We need to contribute if we want to keep music alive.”
The Joneses have taken advantage of recent Pension Protection Act legislation allowing them to make contributions to UALR and other charitable music organizations directly from Homer’s individual retirement account (IRA) in 2006 and 2007. “This way the money goes where I want it to go, rather than giving it to the government in taxes,” he says.
Mary Boaz, former director of planned giving at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, says Homer and Betty are an important part of the University family. “Though they didn’t graduate from UALR, they recognize how much value is added to the community through the many special events and programs offered routinely across our campus,” Boaz says. “We are fortunate to have their support.”
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