The Los Altos couple met "55 years and two months ago" in the student union of the University of Colorado at Boulder, when Dick interviewed Mary to be the assistant chair of a student committee he headed. She promptly got the job and Dick didn't let much time elapse before he asked her on a date.
Dick had grown up on a farm in Iowa and attended college on a Navy scholarship. Mary had moved from place to place as a child, switching schools whenever her father's job took him to a new location. The four years she spent as an undergraduate in Boulder were the most she had ever lived in any one place. The couple graduated in 1960 and Dick immediately started his three-year tour with the Navy. Mary became a teacher and they married in 1962. She had no trouble adjusting to the many relocations Dick's military commitment required.
When Dick completed his service, the couple returned to Boulder while he pursued a Master's degree. They then lived for a short time in southern California, where he worked for Hughes Aircraft, before moving to the Bay Area so he could pursue a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University,thanks to a Howard Hughes fellowship. Dick specialized in laser technology and spent almost 30 years in the laser and optic industry designing, developing, and manufacturing lasers and associated components. Applications of these devices ranged from research tools and medical applications to materials processing. Meanwhile, Mary taught middle school math in Portola Valley. She was one of the first teachers ever to have a computer in her classroom, an HP2000 C that was as large as a refrigerator and programmed through a teletype, donated in 1969 by a Hewlett Packard vice president. Since retiring in 2001, they have enjoyed traveling.
Fortunately healthy, the Wallaces have had just a few personal experiences as patients at El Camino Hospital, although Dick's mother was admitted frequently toward the end of her life. They became interested in making a planned gift to El Camino Hospital Foundation after learning about the favorable opportunities from a newsletter they received in the mail. "It is a good business deal for us," explains Dick. "Charitable gift annuities and Charitable Remainder Unitrusts (CRUTs) provide an excellent way to make an investment, especially in times like these when interest rates are very low. We are going to give this money away anyhow. When you can get a guaranteed annual before tax return of as much as seven to 10 percent for life, it is a good deal!"
Dick met the Foundation's director of gift planning in 2006. She helped him arrange the gift and eventually recruited him to serve on the Foundation's board of directors. Interested in business, he joined the Finance Committee and served one three-year term. He is " still happy to talk up El Camino Hospital on the golf course as a member of the Foundation's Board of Ambassadors," a group of emeritus Foundation leaders.
"El Camino Hospital is a place where we will probably end up when we are no longer in good health," says Mary. "It is a wise investment to donate and make sure it will be able to provide the care we will one day need." The Wallaces agree that, "if you are going to donate money, it behooves anyone capable of so doing to improve the quality of health care you will ultimately get." It is an advantageous investment for you and for your community.