Why I Give – Tommy and Barbara Kramer

Tommy and Barbara Kramer on their ranch

Tommy and Barbara Kramer are staunch believers that education can change lives. They should know: Both earned multiple college degrees, and Barbara spent 30 years teaching second grade before retirement. 

That passion for learning led to an obvious decision when the Kramers discussed how to share their blessings with others. Together with WatersEdge, they established a scholarship endowment for students at First Baptist Church, Durant, their local congregation. The scholarship helps fund qualified students who choose to attend universities throughout Oklahoma.

“Higher education afforded us the opportunity to choose our occupations,” Barbara explains. “Some children don’t have the background or the money, but with our scholarships, we want to enable many students to pursue their chosen profession.”

So far, at least a dozen students have seen their financial burdens lifted through the endowment. But the scholarship fund isn’t the first time the Kramers have partnered with WatersEdge. Almost 30 years ago, the couple attended a seminar at their church that focused on establishing a trust for charitable giving. Afterwards, they met with giving experts at WatersEdge to iron out the particulars of their trust and finalize their estate. A revocable trust allows individuals to control their assets until death; their property is then managed by the trust, thereby avoiding probate.

“Our vehicles, land, house, cattle, equipment — it’s a blessing because it’s all already spelled out how it will be and where it will go,” Tommy says. “At this point, we literally don’t own anything. Everything we do is centered around God, our church, and family.”

The Kramers are focusing their estate on three distinct ministries: the Baptist Home for Girls in Madill, Oklahoma, the scholarship endowment at their church, and their church’s building fund. The remainder of their estate will benefit their children, though their first priority is giving to ministry — something they hope will continue in their family for generations to come.

“We’ve never wavered in what we wanted to give to the kids and to the church, and the church first,” says Tommy. “I think it’s a thing in your heart that you know, when you take your last breath — you’ve honored God, and you’ll be at peace with that.”