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UNM receives $1.7 million estate gift for athletics

Lobos for Life.

It’s not simply a moniker for Sharon and Jerry Geist. They want to keep supporting the University of New Mexico even after they are gone.

As season Lobo Club members and ticket holders for football and basketball since 1966, the Geists have given UNM a great deal over the years. But it’s hard to top their recent gift.

On Monday, UNM announced that the Geists made a $1.7 million estate gift to Lobo athletics – the third largest donation in school history for the department.

An estate gift, which is a type of bequest, is a gift of personal, financial, and/or estate assets that are designated to benefit a specific entity after a person has passed away, according to Jennifer Kemp of the UNM Foundation

The Geists, who are natives of Las Vegas, N.M., and were junior high sweethearts. They have been married for 57 years.

“I won’t disclose my wife’s age, but she’s the same age I am and I’m 79,” Jerry said with a chuckle.

The Geists have three sons and two grandchildren.

“The university does a lot of great things,” Jerry told the Journal. “But our (incentive) is that there are so few things that bring New Mexico together. And we thought, this is one thing that does. And we’re pleased that we’ve been blessed enough that we could pass on our good luck to the students, and the university.”

A UNM news release said the gift will count toward the $75 million goal of the “Lobo Leap to Excellence” capital campaign for Athletics, as well as the university-wide comprehensive campaign, “Changing Worlds 2020: The Campaign for UNM.”

Jerry Geist is chairman at Santa Fe Center Enterprises. Previously, he was the president and chief executive officer of PNM. Geist received a regular Navy scholarship and graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering . He served in the United States Navy for four years.

Sharon also attended the University of Northern Colorado and spent her career as a music teacher. She was state president of the Santa Fe Opera Guild.

“Sharon and Jerry have been dedicated UNM fans from as far back as when I was a Lobo as a student here. We are grateful to the Geists for their long history of community leadership and their generosity to the university,” UNM President Robert G. Frank said in a news release. “This gift is a lasting legacy that will impact future Lobos for years to come and I feel privileged and honored to have been a part of the process.”