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Great faculty inspires giving for Eisenbarths

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019

While attending Washburn University, Gary Eisenbarth, ba ’69, took an assessment to help him decide a career path. It told him his top two career choices would be a math or science teacher or an actuarial scientist. He didn’t know what the second one was, so he passed over it and majored in chemistry with a minor in math.

Gary and Mary EisenbarthAfter graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for two years and came back to Topeka and landed a job at Security Benefit where he once again took an aptitude test that told him he would be good at actuary science. This time, he took it seriously, and it set him on a course for a fulfilling career as the executive vice president of Security Benefit and then as the president and CEO of Mutual Trust Life Insurance.

“I always felt extremely fortunate because I fell into the field,” he said. “My family didn’t have much money, so falling into an industry that helped people create financial security had an emotional appeal to me.”

Eisenbarth grew up in Topeka and chose Washburn because it was affordable – he could go to school and still live with his parents. He and his wife, Mary, met in high school and came to Washburn together and she went through the nursing program.

Together, they created the Gary and Mary Eisenbarth Business Scholarship Fund in 2008 for business students and continue to give to the fund every year to increase its value. When giving, he still reflects on his childhood and watching his parents support philanthropic causes.

“My parents didn’t have much money and they were always supportive of their church,” he said. “When you see people who don’t have much money give it away, it’s a powerful lesson.”

He and Mary donate every year because tuition continues to increase across the United States. He knows it is increasingly difficult for students to afford their own education, and even thought they live in Texas, he feels a loyalty to Washburn because of the mission of teaching students.

“One of the reasons we support the scholarship is that the same story that was told 50 years ago is still told today – Washburn has been blessed with really good teachers,” he said. “It is inspiring to me that over the course of 50 years an institution can remain dedicated to the same things.”

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