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Alumnus Honors Wife, TCU Experience Through Scholarship

Ken and Lee Rae UlrichLee Rae Ulrich didn't attend TCU, but she loved visiting Fort Worth and the campus, and adored her Horned Frog husband's Lambda Chi fraternity brothers and their wives.

"Over two decades, my Lambda Chi brothers all got together for an annual reunion somewhere in the United States and for football games, whenever the games were somewhere in the West," recalls Ken Ulrich, TCU Class of 1966. "We were — and still are — a very close-knit group and Lee Rae was readily accepted into that circle of friendship."

That love for the University and their longtime Horned Frog friends prompted the Ulrichs' decision to include TCU in their estate plans more than two decades ago. After Lee Rae died in 2012 of Alzheimer's disease, her husband designated their gift to become an endowed scholarship in her memory. Once endowed, the Lee Rae Ulrich Memorial Scholarship will provide support for a College of Communication student.

"In my heart I know she'd be pleased with that because she'd seen how well TCU prepared me for a professional career in public relations," Ken notes. "Although she attended college in California, she came to hold TCU in high regard and was always in favor of supporting the University."

Ken says he learned about different forms of estate giving while working for a health care foundation. "I discovered the tax advantages of estate and charitable giving and the good that kind of giving can do."

Providing gifts through their estates is one way people like Ken can shape their favorite institutions for years to come, notes Merrilee Kuylen, TCU's senior director of gift planning. "TCU has been an important part of many alums' lives," she points out. "Gifts in their wills give them a chance to help new generations and support TCU in perpetuity." The estate gift was included in the Class of 1966 50th Reunion Class Gift.

Ultimately, Ken hopes the scholarship that bears his late wife's name will open the TCU experience he enjoyed to new generations of students. "I had so many good times and made so many good friends here," he concludes. "I want others to do the same."

A new life 'out West'

Ken had never traveled west of Pittsburgh when his parents dropped him off at TCU in 1962. Raised in a Philadelphia suburb, he quickly adjusted to his new surroundings. His favorite memories include attending journalism classes in Rogers Hall, hanging out in the old student union to "watch the girls" and drink Dr Pepper, and burning Sterno in coffee cans to keep warm in the drafty rooms in Pete Wright.

Journalism department chair Wayne Rowland provided academic guidance. "TCU's a great school. It certainly prepared me for the life ahead of me," Ken notes. "When I left there, I felt ready. I felt like I knew what I needed to know to start my career."

After earning a master's degree from the University of Missouri, Ken moved to the Chicago area to pursue a journalism career. He quickly learned that public relations professionals worked better hours than journalists, giving him a good reason to switch fields. "Once I crossed the street, I stayed on the ‘Dark Side' — public relations — for 40 years," he says with a laugh. He landed in San Diego in 1983, and eventually began the fulfilling task of training the "next generation of PR professionals" at San Diego State University. He retired in 2009 to care for Lee Rae, then in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Although scattered around the country, his Lambda Chi fraternity brothers remained a constant source of support. "They just loved Lee Rae and she loved them," he says. "These guys are still my best friends after 50 years."

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