Practicing what he preached

Apr. 20, 2018 — Growing up the oldest child in a large Catholic family, Greg Vranicar ’72 was close to his grandparents.

He learned to practice compassion and to seek education, principles that became twin pillars of his life. He also learned about philanthropy.

“Can you believe my grandfather and I talked about planned gifts when I was in the first grade?” Vranicar says.

Some might call it foreshadowing.

From profit to nonprofit

Greg Vranicar '72
    Greg Vranicar '72

Greg attended Grinnell amid the turbulence of the Vietnam era. In fact, he and a classmate were the last two Air Force ROTC cadets at Grinnell College before the program ended.

Vranicar went on to attend law school at the University of Iowa. He completed his Air Force service commitment as a captain in Kansas City where he later began a legal career. He married his wife, Marilyn, in 1982 and together they raised two sons, Mark and David. Both boys majored in philosophy, and studied and lived abroad – reflecting the family’s curiosity about the world.

When the small law firm where Vranicar started his practice merged with a considerably larger firm, he did not enjoy the change in work culture. Since he had served on several nonprofit boards of directors and enjoyed that work very much, Vranicar decided the time was right to move into the nonprofit sector.

“I like to say I went from greed to good,” he says while laughing.

In the years that followed, Vranicar served as the first development director and executive director of a nonprofit counseling center, as the planned giving director at the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and as a private trust officer at Bank of America. In 2002, he was named planned giving director at the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a position he held for just over 15 years before retiring in 2017. He also serves as a class fund director for the Grinnell College class of 1972.

Pursuing one’s passion through giving

Most of Vranicar’s work after leaving law practice involved encouraging people to give for the benefit of a favorite cause. As he approached retirement, Vranicar decided to put his money where his heart was. His career gave him an appreciation for the importance of philanthropy – the power of planned gifts to bring joy, comfort, and peace of mind.

Relying on the advice he gave over the years to thousands of potential donors, he thought about how he wanted his own legacy to help in the future. His gifts will pass directly from an IRA account to four institutions upon his death. He made sure each gift had a specific purpose and a designated honoree.

Vranicar grew up in Stanton, a small Nebraska town. His planned gift to Grinnell is for need-based scholarships for students graduating from high school classes with fewer than 200 members.

“Most students in towns that small would likely not have Grinnell among their potential college choices,” he says.

Vranicar named the gift in honor of legendary history professor Alan R. Jones and his wife, Jean, who were special friends and mentors during and after Vranicar’s Grinnell years.

“It feels great to know that my resources will be used in ways that are important to me and to set a good example for others to do the same,” he says.

— by Jeremy Shapiro & Chris Meyer ’70, Alumni Council

For your information:

Greg Vranicar has set up a planned gift with Grinnell College. There are many options for how to approach planned gifts. To learn more, visit the Planned Gift resource site or call Buddy Boulton, Grinnell College director of planned giving, at 866-850-1846.