For Gold Sponsor Clarence E. Klaus Jr. of Pennsylvania, DU's 75th birthday is personal. That's because he is among the more than 5,600 DU members who will also turn 75 this year. To celebrate this shared anniversary, he recently became a Feather Society member by including Ducks Unlimited in his estate plan.
When asked why he cares about conservation, Klaus said, "I spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparents' farms in southern Illinois and fell in love with the phenomena of nature. I understand the importance of acquiring and conserving wetlands for all things, humans included, and I want to do what I can. A Feather Society gift through my estate is the right thing to do. I encourage others to participate as well."
In addition to waterfowl, Klaus is passionate about his four black Labrador retrievers—Pepper, Burton, Pearl, and Joy. The dogs travel across the nation with him, competing in retrieving contests. Dog ownership has brought Klaus many memorable moments. In 1994, for example, his Lab Ida won first place at the first annual Ducks Unlimited Continental Waterfowl Retriever Classic National Championship held at Borderline Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia.
"My Labs like to be challenged, and enjoy working hard," Klaus said. "But when it comes to retrieving ducks or training, it's all about having fun. They bring me a lot of joy."
And sometimes sorrow. The son of his Lab Burton was killed recently while on patrol with the British marines in Afghanistan. The dog stepped on a pressure mine, saving many lives in the process. "I'm not embarrassed to say I still cry when I think about it," Klaus said.
As an architect, Klaus has spent his life building things to last. Now he's building a better future for waterfowl, and a conservation legacy for himself, by including DU in his estate plan.
To join Klaus and become a member of a special group of visionary supporters who have made a difference for the ducks, contact Jon Rich, managing director of Gift Planning, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 901-758-3763, or visit DU's gift planning website at www.ducksgift.org.