Cowgill Family Image

Bob and Joan Cowgill

Like many faithful Catholics who were born during the Great Depression, Bob and Joan Cowgill understand the value of a dollar — and the value of the Church. It’s a lesson learned in childhood, when money was fleeting but faith and family were steadfast.

“My father was a hard-working farmer, but there was no money to spare,” Joan recalled. “Going to church for Mass was our one social outing of the week.”

Through a Charitable Gift Annuity offered by the Catholic Foundation of Central Florida, Bob and Joan are giving back to the church while retaining the financial peace of mind they worked hard to achieve. The regular income payments provided by the annuity make it an attractive option for frugal couples like the Cowgills, whose lives were shaped by the hardship of the Depression.

Joan still has vivid memories of cold, Midwestern winters on her family’s farm outside of Kankakee, Illinois. One of ten children, she and her siblings would jump into bed at night and huddle together to keep warm.

Basic necessities were often scarce and the luxuries were few, particularly among farming communities.

“We were so poor that we only had one nice set of clothing for each of the children. My mother told us that if a car should come into the front yard, we children should hide behind the house because we were wearing old clothes.”

Less than 300 miles away, Bob was sharing a similar childhood in New Harmony, Indiana. He can remember going to work on a local farm at the age of five.

In time, that strong work ethic would drive Bob to earn first a Bachelor’s degree and finally a Ph.D. from Indiana State University in Terre Haute. He met and married Joan, and the new family moved to Orlando, where Bob taught for 35 years at the University of Central Florida, eventually serving as Dean of the College of Education before retiring in 1998.

Having worked hard and saved wisely, Bob and Joan began looking for ways to prudently increase their stewardship of the church without jeopardizing their retirement.

“We knew we needed more income from our investments, but we also wanted to make a final gift to the church,” said Joan. “A Charitable Gift Annuity seemed like a wonderful way to accomplish both of those goals.”

In exchange for a gift that will ultimately benefit their home parish of Blessed Sacrament in Clermont, the Cowgills will receive fixed income payments for life. Although the rate is determined by the age of the annuitant as well as economic factors, Charitable Gift Annuities typically offer a higher rate of return than CDs and savings accounts. Once set, the rate is guaranteed for life and is not subject to market volatility.

“We are so grateful to Bob and Joan for their good stewardship and their strong love for the Church,” said the Catholic Foundation’s Director of Donor Relations for Planned Giving, who worked with the Cowgills to set up their annuity. “They are great witnesses for Christ and for Christian living.”

To notify us of a legacy gift you have planned for your favorite parish, parish school or diocesan ministry, or to get more information about legacy planning or the Vivos Christi Legacy Society, visit or contact Madelyn Weed, CFRE, Vice President, Chief Donor Services Officer, or (407) 246-7188.

Skip to content