“Iowa will always be part of me.”
When Maynard “Moe” Whitebook (1950 B.A.) passed away in 1999, it was a shock to his wife, Janet Whitebook (1952 B.A.). Moe had unexpectedly suffered a heart attack while running on a treadmill in the couple’s condominium building, just months shy of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Unfortunately, their condo facility was not equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable electronic device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electronic shock to the heart to try and restore a normal rhythm. “I’ll never know whether a defibrillator would have made a difference,” said Janet, who recently passed away. “But when he passed away, I knew I wanted to do something charitable to remember my husband and to help save lives.”
While Janet purchased an AED for her condominium building, she turned to the University of Iowa to make a lasting impact. The UI is where Janet and Moe’s story began.
“I met Moe at a University of Iowa fraternity party during my senior year of high school,” said Janet. “That summer, Moe called and asked me to a movie. The rest is history; we were married three years later.”
While raising their four children and working in the Iowa City, Iowa, community, the Whitebooks stayed connected to their alma mater. Janet volunteered on Hancher’s Fine Arts Committee and worked at the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology—now the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders—while Moe served as president of the Johnson County I-Club and was a volunteer fundraiser for the University of Iowa Foundation’s campaign for the building of the UI Museum of Art 60 years ago.
Because of their long and deep history with the UI, Janet created the Maynard “Moe” Whitebook Memorial Fund, which provides AEDs throughout the campus community. With the help of the UI Department of Public Safety, a total of 18 AEDs have been purchased for the UI campus in Moe’s honor.
“Moe was an outgoing guy, and when he passed away, I received funds from a number of friends and family in his memory,” said Janet. “Since there were no defibrillators on campus at the time, I thought providing that technology to the campus was a fitting way to give back.”
Janet made an outright gift in 1999 to begin this endeavor, and over the years, she made a number of annual gifts as well. Janet also named the UI Foundation as a beneficiary of her retirement account to make sure the AEDs will be properly maintained for generations to come. Making a gift from her retirement plan assets, rather than through her will, is an ideal way for Janet to maximize her support of the UI while minimizing taxes for her family. That is because assets in a retirement account are subject to income tax when received by a beneficiary, unless that beneficiary is a charity. These assets pass completely tax free when left to a charity, however.
For Janet, providing the UI campus with AEDs was a great way to support her alma mater while honoring her husband.
“I’m very appreciative of the education I received at the University of Iowa,” said Janet. “Iowa will always be part of me.”