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Donor Story

Siblings Entrust SME Education Foundation to Endow Scholarship Fund, Honoring Brother’s Planned-Giving Wishes

Jerry L. WickmanFunded with a nearly seven-figure, transformational gift from the estate of Jerry Wickman, the SME Education Foundation has created the Jerry L. Wickman Scholarship — geared toward providing need-based support to Latina students. This endowed scholarship was created by the donor’s sister and brother per Wickman’s planned-giving instructions.

The donation from Wickman builds upon the Foundation’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) scholarship initiative — created in 2020 with establishment of the Dr. Irving P. MacPhail Endowed Scholarship — to increase scholarship awards to women and students of color. This contribution is the largest single donation to the Foundation’s DEI scholarship initiative to date.

Jerry L. WickmanA former resident of Menomonie, Wisconsin, Wickman passed away in September 2022 at the age of 71. A 1969 graduate of Wisconsin’s Appleton East High School, he attended the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Milwaukee and received a PhD in engineering at UW-Stout. A former engineering professor at Texas A&M University, UW-Stout and Ball State University, in Indiana, he retired from teaching to work in product design and development at Phillips-Medisize.

“We were overwhelmed by the enormity of this task and unsure how to proceed,” says Sandra Wickman, Jerry’s sister, about setting up the scholarship. “I didn’t know how to go forward. I just knew what Jerry wanted, and it’s terrible to know what somebody wants and not be able to make it happen.”

Discussing her brother’s passion for making a difference — particularly in the lives of Latinas interested in pursuing careers in skilled manufacturing — Sandra says, “He lived in Texas, maybe that was it, but we also have a large Latina population in central Wisconsin. Jerry had a tremendous interest in trying to change the world, and he put his money where his mouth was. He was putting all his hope in young people, specifically Latina women who are going into STEM.”

Sandra and her brother Dick were able to make Jerry’s planned-giving vision a reality with the help of the SME Education Foundation, where a good friend of Jerry’s worked. “I knew Jerry trusted him, so I put all my eggs in the SME basket,” she says.

According to Sandra, the process of setting up the scholarship was an efficient and rewarding one, taking just a couple of months. “The Foundation guided us through it, and was extraordinarily helpful and dedicated to following our requests,” she says. “I feel confident that Jerry’s wishes were followed, and truly appreciate the guidance, support and kindness that the Foundation offered. I feel kind of like a burden was lifted off me.”