Our family’s home… and Yale’s

“How Jet Age Transportation and Communication Will Speed World Peace,” was the topic of a Boeing-sponsored national high school writing competition in 1958. Toby Berger ’62 credits his prize winning essay as a key reason for his admission to Yale College. “While I came to Yale to major in electrical engineering, I also loved writing and literature and had a strong interest in the humanities. Yale provided the opportunity to pursue both passions.” On Class Day in 1962, Toby again received top honors, this time as the outstanding engineering student in his class.

Toby married his high school sweetheart, Florence Cohen, and spent the next years in the Boston area where they studied at Harvard. Toby completed his Ph.D. in applied mathematics and received an offer to join the faculty of Cornell University. They were in Ithaca for the next thirty-seven years and Toby was named the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professor of Engineering.

Both of their children, Elizabeth ’84 and Lawrence ’90, chose to study at Yale. A third-generation Yalie, Elizabeth’s eldest son, Joshua ’16, is considering a major in history or classics and is excited about being a Yale Daily News staff reporter.  

Several years ago, the Bergers moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to be near Elizabeth and their four grandchildren. Currently, Toby is a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science.

In April of 2012, while thinking about his upcoming 50th Yale College reunion, Toby read a story in this newsletter about a life estate agreement through which a couple gave the remainder interest in their home to Yale. The example struck just the right note for Toby.

“My 50th reunion seemed an auspicious time to give back to Yale, which has given our family so much. Our financial situation was such that we could benefit appreciably from the tax advantages that accompany deeding one’s home to Yale. We could continue to live in our house and maintain the property just as we always have. But we, my 50th reunion class, and eventually Yale would benefit from our life estate agreement. Our gift is unrestricted as to purpose. I am confident the university will ultimately use the proceeds from the sale of our home in a meaningful way. By deeding our home now, we gained important tax savings and aªrmed our multi-generational family commitment to Yale.”