Paying it forward through a gift of life insurance

Daniel Stewart receives a handshake from President Joyner
September 8, 2023
By Nancy Moreland
Purchasing life insurance was the right decision for alum and retired Flagler employee Dan Stewart ‘78 and his wife Mary Ellen (Crotty) ’79 when their three children were young. But as the Stewarts reached their 60s, it was time to re-evaluate.

"We set it up when we were young to provide for our family," Dan Stewart said. "Our kids are established and doing well now. All people need to look at their life insurance to see if their beneficiaries still match their life situation." 

With their children well into adulthood and financially dependent, the Stewarts decided to make Flagler College a beneficiary of one of their $50,000 life insurance policies. 

Stewart Family Photo

As faithful donors for more than 25 years, the couple had already endowed the Jason N. Stewart Memorial Scholarship for Leadership. The scholarship assists a future student leader and honors the Stewarts' late son, Jason, who was well-known throughout the Flagler community. Jason was a person with a disability, and his parents said that even with this personal experience, he brought a smile to everyone he met and became a leader in the campus community. 

"Jason became a leader in his own capacity by his demeanor and attitude. This scholarship keeps his legacy going forward," Dan Stewart said.  

Giving Back to Those Who Give So Much 

The Stewarts have been associated with the College for more than four decades. Dan and Mary Ellen met on campus, and both earned degrees here. As did their son, Josh, in 2010 and their daughter-in-law, Caitlyn, in 2011.  

"Friendships we developed at Flagler are still with us today," Mary Ellen Stewart said. "We're fortunate to have had a positive student experience and to see the College grow." 

Dan Stewart had a front-row seat to the school's growth. Before retiring in the 2019-2020 academic year, he worked at the College nearly since its inception, serving in a variety of leadership positions.  

He spent 26 years as the Chief Student Affairs Officer, overseeing the student leadership teams that evolved over time and encompassed different boards and councils. The teams now include Resident Advisors, Student Government Association leadership, the Campus Activity Board, and Flagler Volunteers.  

Dan Stewart also served as Vice President of Student Services and held several positions within the Athletics Department. Throughout his multi-faceted career, he drew lessons from his Flagler education.  

"The outstanding classes challenged me," he said. "I've probably called on all those classes in my career."  

He said interactions with student leaders inspired his philanthropy. Other than the Student Government Association President, these student leaders receive no financial compensation. 

"Having spent 40 years working at Flagler, I know how important scholarships are for students," Dan Stewart said. "There are very few scholarships for student leaders who give an unbelievable amount of their time and talent back to the College." 

He believes reevaluating your beneficiaries is crucial to keeping your estate plan current. When it came time to update their life insurance beneficiaries, Dan Stewart said the process was simple.  

"I filled out one form and notified the Office of Institutional Advancement- It was easy," he said. 

The Community-College Connection 

As long-time donors, the Stewarts want to lead by example, encouraging others to support the institution they believe is so integral to St. Augustine's identity.  

"You'd be hard-pressed to go anywhere in this community and find someone who is not involved in the College, either as a student, parent of a student, faculty, or staff member," Dan Stewart said. "It has done so much for the community." 

Mary Ellen Stewart reflected on all the causes needing support and recognized the difficulty in finding the philanthropic causes that speak to you. 

"We all receive so many solicitations," she said. "Think with your heart and do what you can." 

Flagler College is a cause close to the hearts of the Stewarts, as is the memory of their son Jason. By supporting student leaders at Flagler College, their late son Jason's legacy lives on.  

Visit the Stewarts' story on Flagler College's Planned Giving website.

Planned Giving website

To learn more about using life insurance or other planned gifts to support Flagler College, contact Nicole Pece at 904-819-6406 or the Office of Institutional Advancement at 904-819-6437.